why should I gain from his reward?

One of my classes this semester is an online class called Evangelism and Discipleship.  So far, I’m really enjoying it.  I am finding myself challenged by the various thoughts on what Evangelism look like and how the best way is to communicate this Gospel to which I’ve given my life.
So this week’s topic is “What is the Gospel?”  We had some readings to do and then a challenge of writing an essay that explains what the Gospel is in 55 words or less.  It’s off this movement called 55-word fiction.  This movement sort of intrigues me, as does the thought of trying to sum up the Gospel in 55 words.  It seems unbelievably challenging.
I’ve tried already a couple of times and each time it comes out so formulaic.  It seems so dry and impersonal.  Like I’m giving the Sunday School answer of “We were created to be in community with God but then sin entered the world and we were separated from God.  Then Jesus came and died for us so we could be reunited with God.”  … the end, amen.
I look at my words on the screen and think, gross.  So impersonal and so blah.  I can almost see that cheesy diagram they pass out in tracts and draw on the board to help you understand why it is Jesus died for us.  Ya know, with the two cliffs and the cross that we can walk across to get to God…  yeah, that one.
But that is so not my style.  Not that I don’t think those tools are helpful and have brought thousands of people to Christ.  I just can’t help but feel there needs to be more.
I want to display the scandal that is the act of the cross.  The fact that Jesus walked on earth as an equal to God and yet he didn’t claim that as something to place him above others.  He humbled himself to the point of the most humiliating death known at that time and allowed himself to be killed by the hands of the people he was sent to save.  The love and grace that takes is literally unthinkable. We cannot imagine it.  We do not have the capacity as fallen creatures to understand what that feels like.
But we are called to respond.  We are called to love out of that grace and love.  To worship the God that stood by and watched his son die on the cross.  To try and identify with that in some way, to which we cannot, at least not fully.
The beauty of the Gospel is that it is simple, “Come, all who are weary and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28).  All we have to do to receive that salvation is to come to him, and yet as a response to that gift we must love him and love others around us.
Last night I went downtown to attend the worship session for Youth Worker’s Connection.  It was, as always, a great night of worship and fellowship.  After a great message was delivered on hope we sang the old hymn, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.”  A hymn that I have always loved for the way that it grabs my heart right out of my chest.  But last night was different.
Last night I was sitting there and listened the the verse that said,
“How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns his face away
As wounds which mare the chosen one
Bring many sons to glory”
In that moment I flashed back to sitting in the hospital next to my dad, holding his hand as he struggled to breathe.  I remember the gut-wrenching pain that filled me and the amount of hatred I had for this disease that was killing him.  Then I thought about how there are other words in this song that say, “It was my sin that held him there.”  And I thought about the way that God must love us an unbelievable amount because he doesn’t hold that against us.  Instead he pours blessings over us time and time again.
Keep in mind that I have never loved anyone perfectly and my dad probably the least of all of those.  And my dad never loved me perfectly.  My dad made his choices and I made mine.  As heartbreaking as his death was and still is in my life, it is nothing compared to the blameless death of Christ on the cross.  But for a small moment last night I had a slight glimpse into what that could have felt like.  And it sucked.  It makes me want to love so much more, worship so much better and all in all be better.
so now the question begs itself…. how do I put that into 55 words?

One Reply to “why should I gain from his reward?”

  1. the 55 words I chose:
    Unimaginable that one would choose to die a horrendous death in order to save the lives of those who placed him there . To save them from lives of pain, sorrow for the sake of grace and love.
    Yet the story is true. We have life because Christ died for us. We choose how we respond.

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