For Lent, my husband and I have joined a few other couples in trying to delve into the crux of the Gospel. What is the good news? Sometimes it seems so simple. Other times, not. Has there been a period in your life when you have tried to piece it all together? Or maybe you’ve had an “ah ha” moment with a rush of increased love and understanding. We know God wants us to seek and discover this treasure of grace that he has embedded in history. He wants us to know it in our hearts mostly, but also in our heads. He wants us to tell others the good news. So what is it?
Well, here is my understanding of the Gospel. If you are looking for a succinct way to share the good news with others, perhaps the bolded titles will help best. If this is new to you, let me know how I can encourage you along the Way! For those of you who are familiar with this and are daily grappling with living the Gospel, as am I, I would love your feedback! In this summary of mine, What is clear? What is strange? What seems like heresy? What is true? What is helpful to you?
God, the Trinity, is the eternal source of all goodness
God is and always has been. The Trinity exists in an eternal relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three persons of the Trinity are One. There is only one God. Like the light of a fire, the Son exists because of the Father, generated, begotten by Him. In the same way that a fire has never existed without its own light, so also, there never has been a time when the Son didn’t exist. The heat from the fire also is concurrent with the fire and the light and so, the Holy Spirit exists because of the Father and the Son and yet he is co-eternal. Everything good and perfect originates in God – beauty, truth, peace, power, being, etc.
In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-2
We are created for Love
God, who is pure Spirit, created the world in an act of love – making wonderful physical matter- out of the chaos of nothing. It is the Logos, the ordered life of God in created things, which continually gives existence to everything that is. Similar to the animals and all creation, we have value because we were created by God. But even greater than that, unlike anything else, we share God’s own image. The crux of who we are is patterned after the likeness of the Trinity. Our ability to will, to reflect and to love give us windows into this likeness. God created us to relate with Him eternally both individually and communally through being known and knowing, being loved and loving, being served and serving. In order for God and man to experience this relationship, it is, by the necessary nature of love, a free invitation to exchange selves – not forced. Adam and Eve experienced this as they walked with God in the cool of the evening, naked and unashamed.
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Without him, nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3-4
We fundamentally wounded ourselves
In the freedom that God gave and does give, there was an openness to receive or reject. Many wonderfully created heavenly beings, namely Lucifer, rejected the Trinity and chose an absence of love which we commonly call “evil.”
Likewise, our first parents turned away from God, listening to the mistrusting, prideful voice of the evil one. They momentarily disobeyed, fundamentally and lastingly taking themselves out of that mutual exchange of love. As a natural result (call it a punishment, consequence, natural effect or perhaps even a part of a remedy), death entered human experience. Not wanting people to exist forever in that wounded state, the first man and first women were removed from the eternal garden of Eden. As man and women worked and filled the earth with family, God renewed his relationship to a chosen portion of His people as protector, father, life giver – God – and he solicited from them a response of committed love. This was a formative example of what he intended to do with all people. With the covenant (a familial bonded promise), God gave ample laws to His nation, Israel, which lead to the path of life. This was a vital but small portion God’s larger plan of redemption. For he knew that although tribes, families and individuals often loved and had many moments of covenantal faithfulness, all people sinned, all people served themselves. Having inherited the wounded, sinful, disrupted nature of Adam, all people, even His chosen Israel, continued in the falsely alluring death grip of the message of Satan – no hope. no love. no reason. the self is king. fear. mistrust.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
Christ Joins Us
Desiring to live in union with those He made, and knowing Himself to be the only cure, God the Father sent His Son, the second person of the Trinity, to live with, in and as humanity. And so, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God was incarnate, in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary- a young Jewish woman who had been chosen and preserved from original sin to be the mother of God, to be the new Eve. Jesus was like us in all things except sin.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. John 1:14
Jesus taught and healed
Jesus grew and learned to work by his foster father, Joseph, as a carpenter. When he was about 30, he wandered the region of Judea, teaching and healing. His interactions with people were both earthy (caring for the immediate needs of those around him) and yet full of an eternal perspective. He helped a young couple who ran out of wine at their wedding feast and in so doing, indicated the marital relationship that God desires to experience with his people. He brought an abundance of fish to some out of luck fisherman and in so doing, initiated them into a new occupation of gathering to people God’s house. He forgave the sins of a paralyzed man and then healed him of his paralysis. He miraculously fed over 5,000 people and promised his own body as food to give eternal life to anyone who comes to him. His entire life, he did the will of the Father. He desired God’s plan.
He sat down and taught the people. Luke 5:3
Jesus heals our mortal wound by laying down his life on the cross
While the numbers of people who followed Jesus grew, so did the opposition to him. He angered Jewish religious authorities by healing on the Sabbath – jostling their self-serving system of so to speak “keeping the commandments.” Some people were perturbed at his indications that some gentiles and sinners are part of God’s kingdom through mercy and love. And of course, no ruler who was concerned about maintain his power, whether religious or secular, was happy about his claim to be the son of God. Jesus’ popularity was a threat and so, he was arrested.
He was tried by the Roman authorities, was condemned to death by crucifixion. On the cross, Jesus, who was blameless and perfect in every way, took upon himself, the sins of the whole world. He suffered not only physically but rather in his whole being- feeling the absence of God which in some way, we have all chosen. He died and descended into hell. God himself, had come to wrestle us out of the hand of Satan and take our death away.
Jesus was destined to heal Adam’s original sin and all of our subsequent sins and fundamental disorientation. In this way, the only begotten son of God, (God himself), was able to do in us and for us, created children, what a true son united in friendship with their father does. He lived out the Father’s will, completely giving His own life to the Father who first and continually, gives life to him. He embodied our experience and made possible for us an eternal life. He saved us from eternal absence of love.
When he died on the cross, the huge vail blocking the inner sanctuary of the temple tore in two from top to bottom. Dwelling in the inner relationship with God was now opened to us.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
1 Cor 15
Rising from the dead, Jesus conquered the power of death in us
On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. Death no longer had power over him. Anyone who believes in Jesus also can enter into this freedom. Jesus encouraged his Apostles, appearing to them sporadically over 40 days. He entrusted them with his own mission to teach people and bring them through baptism into friendship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Then he ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples to remind them of all he taught them, so that they can fulfill the mission of Christ, filled with courage, comfort and holiness.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. Romans 6:4-9
All people can choose to receive life with God
Then Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples to remind them of all he taught, so that they can carry out his mission, filled with courage, comfort and holiness. Everyone who wants to can follow Jesus, be filled with the Holy Spirit and enter into the Father’s Will for eternal life and union. We respond to his grace by saying “yes” daily in prayer, through service and by living in the Church through the sacraments.
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. …9 For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
So, there you go. A summary of the Good News. This is your story; it is my story; it is THE story. All other stories fit within it. Let me know what you think. Please share your comments below or on our facebook page