A very big Gospel
"...a gospel culture is one shaped by the Story of Israel and the Story of Jesus Christ, a story that moves from creation to consummation, a story that tells the whole Story of Jesus and not just a Good Friday story, and a story that tells not just of personal salvation but of God being 'all in all.' It tells the story that Jesus, not any human ruler, is the Lord over all." - Scot McKnight (The King Jesus Gospel) For many of us, our initial foray into Christendom was primarily driven by a desire for self-preservation. We thought it best to have our own self person rescued from this doomed earth on that particular day when God deems it right to send everything to the burning fires of hell. At least, that's the version of the story many of us were told. And so we say a prayer, receive sweet Jesus into our hearts, and get baptized. I went through this process at age 12. The most prominent reason was that I wanted to make sure I was on the right side of things when all was said and done. I wanted to stand with the winners. I'd been told, emphatically, that it was God's children who were the winners while everyone else belonged in the losers circle, ruled by Satan and his minions. So I asked how I could become a child of God and went through the process. I don't mean to diminish the power of my baptism experience. It was indeed formative and life-changing in many ways. But my motivations were off.
In reality, the story of the Gospel is much too large to be whittled down into a micro-narrative of any one individual's personal redemption story. This might sound a bit irreverent or insensitive to your personal salvation experience but I don't mean for it to be. In fact, I think our own personal salvation experiences are only as full and vibrant as they find themselves within the larger narrative of God's kingdom story. Our stories find themselves in proper alignment only against the beautiful backdrop of God's grand narrative for the world. It is the very big, overarching power of the Gospel that breathes real life and power into our individual, personal stories of salvation.
God rescuing me from sin and death is a part of a much larger rescue. Namely, the rescue of the whole of creation. God is in the process of rescuing, redeeming, and ultimately restoring the whole of created order and I happen to be a part of that created order. So do you. And so does every human on the face of planet earth. God's story reaches them as deeply, as richly, and as personally as it does you and me. The Gospel rescues more than just me. It rescues everything. That's the point. That's why it's the Gospel, the good news. It's good news for everyone. And here's the kicker. It really isn't about us. It's not about me getting what I want. In the end, it's really just about one thing. It's about God being all in all, as Scot McKnight writes. Or as NT Wright puts it, it's about God setting the world to rights. The Gospel is the good news that out of darkness and chaos, God will burst forth in blinding light and make all things new, all things right, and all things well. He will reign as King and we will find our peace in his perfect reign.