What If The Gospel Is Not What You’ve Always Believed?
One of the hardest things to me about being human is how limited my understanding of who God truly is. How is it possible to know an unsearchable God?
In this spiritual formation program, I’ve been working to uncover my false narratives about God.
But here’s the thing: this uncovering is a lifelong endeavor because our understanding of God’s greatness and goodness will grow fuller and richer not only throughout our lifetime on this earth but all throughout eternity!
Kinda blows your mind, doesn’t it?
To think that we will be diving deeper and deeper into the unsearchable, profound mystery of God forever and ever?!
I’m really curious about your thoughts on this Charlie Mackesy sculpture portraying the return of the prodigal son:
I don’t know about you, but I’m a very visual person. The moment I first laid eyes on this image, my heart exploded with emotion.
Seeing the expression of tender compassion on the father’s face as he held his wayward son in welcoming arms of love and grace.
The son, limp with exhaustion from the heaviness of sin, allows himself to be held in the safety of his father’s warm embrace.
What do you see when you look at this image? I’d love to hear how this portrayal of God lands in your heart. How easy or difficult is it for you to experience God in this way?
Especially after you’ve blown it…
Another uncovering that takes a lifetime is the false narratives we hold about the Gospel.
What exactly is the Gospel?
Seriously! How would you respond to that questions? It seems easy enough to answer, especially for those of us who’ve been around the church for any length of time.
But what if it’s not what we think?
What if the Gospel is MORE than we think? I mean, if God Himself is an unsearchable and progressively revealed mystery, could the Good News about Jesus be just as unsearchable?
If you were to ask the majority of Christians, they would say the same thing I used to say: the Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died on a cross for our sins and that if we believe in Him, He will forgive our sins and welcome us into heaven after we die.
The underlying assumption here is that simply having one moment of mental acknowledgment of accepting Jesus into your heart would open the doors to heaven.
And most importantly, keep you out of hell!
To call this an incomplete version of the Good News is a gross understatement. If that is the entirety of the Gospel message, how do live life in the meantime? If the underlying benefit is mostly about fire insurance, what does God expect from me until I pass through those pearly gates?
Do I try hard to live a good life?
Do my best to obey God’s commands (at least the ones I agree with)?
Endure any suffering this world throws at me while clinging to a thread of hope?
This partial understanding of the Gospel provides so little purpose and joy to life on earth now.
Allow me to leave you with a question to ponder as I come to a close.
Romans 4:3 says that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
But what exactly did Abraham believe about God that made him righteous?
Abraham, the pagan idol worshiper who heard God’s voice and left his old life behind.
Abraham, the nomad who followed God instead of a roadmap, with no visible destination in sight.
Abraham, the childless older man who saw his future offspring in the stars.
What did Abraham believe about God?
Did he believe Jesus was the Son of God? Did he believe God would forgive him of his sins? Did Abraham believe he would go to heaven after he died?
What did Abraham believe that led God to declare him righteous?
What if the Gospel message is so much more, so much better than we have ever imagined?
We’ll pick up right here next time, but for now, leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts
And if you know someone who might benefit from this conversation, feel free to share this post with them.
These questions are so helpful! they put into words some of my feelings. I strive to go deeper and discern the path the Lord has for me and you are so insightful ( and timely) in your articles! They give me some direction for my studies.
Thank you, LaRaine. I’m glad these things are speaking to you too, and I love walking this journey with you. Your heart for God is an encouragement to me and to others around you.
Oh my goodness, I LOVE THIS! I’ve wrestled with many of the same questions, ….recently even discussing the mystery of God with others! There is an unending pull on my heart to want to know more; to know Him like Abraham did and to be willing to follow the unknown path, to see possibilities in the hidden and to leave every ounce of the old life behind!!!!
Thank you, friend. Keep wrestling! Those “spiritual conversations” are the best! <3
Very thought provoking. Initially I thought, but wait, the person os not “hugging back” or doing something to show his appreciation. That’s what you are speaking about! Yes, Jesus loves us before we turn our lives over to Him! Amazing love!
SO amazing! His love is beyond our human ability to comprehend.
Oh gf, that’s an image that I got to experienced a couple of decades ago and I have never been the same…I was prodigal daughter (being religious), woman at the well but God had given me a water that never gets thirsty again….Yes. His love IS beyond comprehension!!! Love you and thank you!!!
Gosh, I MISS you, friend! I’m so grateful for you and your heart. So much beauty.