When you think about life apart from the biblical narrative, nothing seems to make sense. We all know something is radically wrong with us and the world around us, but we don’t know what it is . . . apart from the story in the pages of sacred Scripture. Only the Gospel can make sense of what seems at times to be absolutely senseless. Let’s take a brief look at some of the things that don’t make any sense apart from the truths of the Gospel.
Sin doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel. Why do we do some of the sinful stuff we do? It is because we are sinners—both by nature and by habit. Without the story of creation (all things made good by God) and the Fall in the Garden of Eden (all things made bad by man), sin doesn’t make sense. We begin to try to categorize our inappropriate behaviors as something less than sin—a result of our environment or bio-chemistry. The rationale goes, change the environment outside or inside (move or get medicine), and the person will ultimately change. History has taught us these experiments have failed miserably. Behavior can and often does change for awhile, but heart transformation never happens apart from the Gospel.
Moral obligation doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel. In a messed up world, with a God who is off in some distant land, unconcerned and uninvolved, what obligation would there be for any moral concern on our part for what is good, just, and right? Why would any of us care about hurting, lost, broken, oppressed, and marginalized people? The survival of the fittest would seem to make the most sense. But the Gospel tells us that God in Christ entered into this world to make all that had been crooked since the Fall straight once again. And He did this at the most unimaginable cost to Himself. Gospel sanity says we are to enter into the process Jesus started, expecting suffering along the way and ultimate success in the end, because what He began He will complete (Isaiah 46:9-11).
Our overwhelming need for relationship doesn’t make sense apart from the Gospel. God made us for relationship with Him and each other. He said it was not good for us to be alone, and yet that is exactly what we tried to do in the Garden. We looked away from God and each other and looked only at ourselves, which only resulted in fear, guilt, and a sense of utter brokenness. But the Gospel tells us that we need a relationship with God, and through that relationship, God gives us a right relationship with the human community. Gospel sanity moves us in the direction of working to strengthen both the community within the church and the community outside of it. Gospel sanity drives us to care for everyone because God cares for everyone. Mercy, justice, and service become the marks of the Christian who is busily engaged in building community wherever people are to be found.
So . . . do you need a little Gospel sanity today? In the words of Flannery O’Connor, “To know oneself, is above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against the Truth, and not the other way around.” The Truth is that we all need a daily dose of Gospel sanity to keep Jesus at the center of our existence. This is the only place where life is to be lived and the only way it makes sense.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!