What is the gospel?

This is a question that seems to keep popping up in my life at various opportune moments or as the Bible calls them “Kairos” moments. It is almost as if God is like “wait, there is more!”

I’m sure in sunday school and in church sermons growing up people were talking about the gospel (I hope anyways) I just can’t remember. I did have a mormon friend show me a video of Steve Young (49ers quarterback in the 90’s) and I assume he presented some form of the gospel, but I was mad I had to watch a video (instead of playing) so I didn’t pay attention.

It wasn’t really until I was 25 when I realized I either believe this whole christian thing or not. So I read the gospels (because they preach the gospel right?!) and then the rest of the new testament then over about two years I read the whole Bible. It was fascinating, weird, beautiful, sad, boring, engaging, cryptic, funny, messy, violent, inspired, gross, human, and divine. If you’ve read it, you get what I mean.

My conclusion from it all is: The Gospel is a story. 

Let’s back up for a second. I throw around the word Gospel like it’s english. Well, it is in fact english, just OLD english. The old english word is Godspel and comes from god “good” + spel “story, message”. (side note: I actually didn’t know that til right now! Funny, how it lined up perfectly with the above conclusion.) Not only is the gospel a story, but it’s a good story.

Good stories have many layers to them and the Gospel is no different. It is the story of Jesus framed in the story of Israel1 framed in the story of all humanity. The beauty of story is that is is about creative expression. I love that there are 4 gospel-according-to’s included at the start of the new testament. Did you hear Matthew’s “good story”? What about mark’s? What’s your good story? What’s mine?

Maybe your story isn’t so good. The Good news is all our stories belong inside a bigger narrative that is going good places and you can be a part of it. The Bible is full of not-so-good stories made incredible by God. Think about it: Fall->redemption, slavery->freedom, death->resurrection, war->peace, unjust->just, pain/suffering->healed. The beauty of story is when we read imaginatively, we put ourselves inside the story, we relate to the story of others, and find comfort, healing and hope.

Wait, but isn’t the gospel about my personal salvation? Gloria a Dios, yes! It’s always been about salvation, but we can’t take an isolated (yet key) element out of the story and use it alone and miss all the other richness of the story! Scot McKnight says it this way in his book The King Jesus Gospel:

When the plan [of salvation] gets separated from the story [gospel], the plan almost always becomes abstract, propositional, logical, rational, and philosophical and, most importantly, de-storified and unbiblical. When we separate the Plan of Salvation from the story, we cut ourselves off from the story that identifies us and tells our past and tells our future.

May we continue to tell the good ol’ story, the gospel, the good news, las buenas nuevas that Jesus is savior and King of the world, his kingdom is coming and we can be a part of the unfolding story.

Have you had a similar journey? What’s been your experience with reading,understanding and preaching the gospel? Share it below.

1I have Scot McKnight to thank for this first part of that statement which is his main point in The King Jesus Gospel

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