Friday, November 28, 2008

the gospel for crises

What is happening in Mumbai has captured our attention in the news. It is certainly troubling, and is an attack on the very foundations of civilization, or civilized society. Of course it reminds us of what happened on "9/11."

What does the gospel of Christ have to say to this, and how does it address it? This is challenging. The stock answer for many Christians is that it may affect such only indirectly, through the regeneration of people, in which lives are changed. And of course we know in one way or another that wars and violence are inevitable in this world until God in Christ puts a final end to it in the completion of the shalom of the kingdom.

I believe the gospel does have more to say in addressing these crises. The good news in Jesus also is about an alternative way to be human. And there is only one way to move toward being a human in the full sense of what God intended in God's creation of humans. But in this world, in Jesus, it's a way which is marked by suffering.

How do we defeat evil? The stock answer of the world is to fight fire with fire. And indeed there would seem to be justification for that when we read Romans 13. The state is there seen to be "servants of God" no less in bearing "the sword" against evil doers. But is this the way God prescribes through the gospel? I think all Christians would agree that it is not. Though we would disagree on what relationship Christians can have with the governing authorities, or "the state". Some of us would say we should not engage in "the sword" aspect of the state, while others of us would say we can, and perhaps even should.

But let's lay that last question aside, as we consider the gospel way in Jesus of fighting evil. We overcome evil with good. And specifically with the good that is rooted in Jesus and in his death, which is the epitome and ground of overcoming evil with good, and of righting all wrongs. We're to live out in Jesus his redemptive life and even death, doing so as God's resurrection people in Jesus in this world. I believe this is at the heart of what it means to live as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Of course we must start locally in how we live before others among us. But back to Mumbai. What are we to think and do about that? We must pray for all involved, including the terrorists. We must pray for God's intervention and for God's justice and mercy. And we should be praying for Christians who in these places can live out the light of the gospel in Jesus by the Spirit, even in the most troubling and trying circumstances. And for the church to be active in such places and times, as well as in every place and time.

Too often we've settled for a gospel that doesn't address all the needs of this world. I suggest that while this world will always have trouble and great need, the good news in Jesus does address these needs on every level. That the gospel has something to say about everything, while not losing sight of the reality that it's the power of salvation for all who believe.

What would you like to add to this?


Every Square Inch said...


I absolutely love the fact that you're bringing the gospel into the discussion. I have to confess, though, that when we seek to enlarge the gospel beyond salvation, I don't get the point.

I'm not saying that there aren't fundamental benefits that stem from the gospel like peaceful, free societies but doesn't the New Testament first positions the work of Jesus Christ as saving those who are lost in sin and redeeming a people to himself?

Just wondering.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Salvation is like with Mary in the Magnificat, it's more than just about individual souls, as important as that is, and ever will be. It's good news that is a slam to the then Roman parallel, advocating a good news or gospel that is not just about personal salvation, or even the salvation of peoples, but about a salvation that is good news for all of creation, including human culture.

Probably not that well stated.

And I certainly agree with your last paragraph, that this gospel and salvation impacting people and a people has a great impact for good on the world. But I just believe the gospel is meant to impact more. Very much related by the way on what Bonhoeffer himself was working on, and Bonhoeffer most certainly did not deny the aspect you bring out so well.