My goal for this year is to find the language to express Jesus’ good news, the gospel of the kingdom. Can you help?
The gospel is world-transforming news. Here’s what I have so far — trying to match phrases from Scripture to what it means for us:
The gospel is the regal proclamation that God has acted to free the earth from enslavement to evil, reunifying humanity and restoring the planet in his governance through Jesus Christ (his anointed ruler) our Lord (our global leader).
You’ll recognize this as a much bigger story than the one about God forgiving my guilt. We tried to convince people they’re sinners (guilty), so we could tell them Jesus died in your place (for your guilt). The goal was getting them to pray the prayer to accept their free gift (personal forgiveness), so they’re off the hook with God (no longer condemned).
While that story contains fragments of truth, it isn’t the gospel call. God calls people into life under his kingship, recognizing Christ as Lord, assembling around the resurrected king as his grass-roots government (church), caring for everyone in his realm through the power of his Spirit, overpowering the remnants of evil by doing good.
The gospel announces a tectonic shift in the power structures of the planet. God’s anointed defeated evil by giving himself non-violently in his confrontation with evil at the cross. God overturned the injustice of the world by restoring life to his assassinated Son. In raising him up out of death to the throne, God raised up the crushed world as well — the world that comes to life in him, in his kingship. The community of people who already acknowledge Jesus as our global leader (Lord) are the present evidence that God is restoring the world in him.
History demonstrates how human rulers enslave people for their own power (e.g. Pharaoh). History demonstrates how human rulers use war to extend their power (e.g. Nebuchadnezzar). The way human rulers tear people apart, they behave more like animals than humans in God’s image (Daniel 7). Human rulers are serving evil when they grasp for power that belongs to “the Lord and his anointed” (Psalm 2:2).
The gospel reconfigures the world from oppression under rulers that serve the powers of evil, freeing the earth to be what it was designed to be (a kingdom of heaven), through the crucifixion of God’s anointed ruler and his resurrection and ascension as leader of the world (our Lord). The gospel announces the end of the war for power, for peace has come to earth through God’s anointed.
The gospel is far more than an amnesty for individual rebels. It is a theopolitical announcement (God is king) with sociological implications (earth transformed as his kingdom).
This gospel cannot be reduced to a sales pitch on personal benefits, yet it has a strong appeal to what people know is right. It calls us to be more than what we are, to live something grander than accumulating resources, to a world that recognizes the ruler who can set all things right.
Any suggestions on how we proclaim this world-transforming good news of Christ in our culture?