As I mentioned in my last post, somewhere along the way we have come to use bits and pieces of Paul's writings to share the gospel, rather than use material from any of the four gospels, where Jesus' proclamation of the gospel is recorded.
Why do we like to take certain sections and certain phrases from Paul, and piece them together to formulate what we now call the gospel? A gospel that Jesus never seemed to teach.
Jesus never pulled out a note card and asked questions such as, "Do you know you are a sinner and are on your way to an eternal hell unless you ask me into your heart?"
When Jesus came to proclaim the gospel, he essentially said, "repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!". In other words, the kingdom is already here, at an arms reach, for everyone to grab on to.
I use to understand the phrase, "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand", to be so negative (which I will come back to in another post). As if Jesus was saying something like, "God is on His way so you had better get your acts together or else". But now I see that Jesus was excited about this announcement. He wasn't threatening anyone, he was inviting them.
An invitation is much different than an ultimatum.
And yet we seem to be stuck on the scary, not so good news, version of the gospel.
Jesus hung out with a bunch of sinners and showed them they were good. When Jesus came to face to face with a woman caught in adultery... He didn't walk her through the ten commandments to make sure she knew just how sinful she was. Instead, he said, "No one condemns you... Now go and sin no more." and Jesus wasn't giving a command when he said, "Go and sin no more", I believe he was saying, "See, this isn't who you are, who you were created to be, and you don't have to live this way."
When we keep telling people they are no good sinners, that is all they will ever believe themselves to be.
But Jesus came to bring to us good news, not the same bad news of "you are not good enough"
Maybe we would see a different response if we started treating the gospel as if it really were good news. And instead of stiffly walking people through a rehearsed presentation of some version of the "gospel" we have cut and pasted from our Bibles, we simply started proclaiming...
"God said you are good, God loves you just as you are, and you don't have to live this way."