When the story of Jesus enters a culture, no matter where on earth that culture is located, it speaks to such a deep, universal experience. It speaks to our losses, our lost sense of identity, our corrupted innocence, our desire for meaning, our need for hope, and our desperation for purpose.
The gospel is the most remarkable truth in history because it contains the power for transformation, healing, and reconciliation.
It is an ancient, multicultural, international movement that speaks to everyone who has ever breathed the earth’s life-giving air.
The gospel speaks to our losses.
As I recall my early twenties, it was a time I felt I was spiraling downward through the funnel of regret and shame. I was given opportunities that I threw away. I experienced the loss of relationships and resources that I squandered in my own foolishness and ignorance.
Regardless of my folly, the gospel says that all is found and restored in Christ. There are still consequences for my actions, and I have to deal with them. But though I still have baggage from my past, there is a redemptive quality about my life that now defines me and shines brighter than the shadows I created when I was younger.
The gospel speaks to our identity.
We crave the sense of identity. Without it, we feel lost without purpose. Children will spend years or even decades trying to find their birth parents. Why? We need to know who we are and to whom we belong.
The gospel speaks to our identity, which is that we are made in God’s image, and we are meant to know God and belong to him. The gospel says that in Christ God is our Father, and we are his children. Jesus gives us that sense of belonging that our souls crave and places his identity onto us as an inheritance into the family.
The gospel speaks to our innocence lost.
Many who deny God’s existence will never deny the fact that every person who lives is a walking talking moral failure. Even if they say that most people are good (clearly false), they will still admit that humanity has a serious illness called “sin.” Sin characterizes our nations, cultures, and societies more than any other aspect of our humanity. If there is one issue that God must deal with, it’s our sin.
We all long to get back to that child-like place of innocence. Somewhere along the way, we started chasing things that we thought would make us happy, only to damage our integrity. We look up, and the person we see in the mirror is unrecognizable. What happened?
We went our own way.
Although we’ve chased sin with passion, God, in Christ, chases us and saves us from our moral compromises. Baptism is a representation of being washed clean. For some of us – me in particular – we desperately crave to be clean again. In Christ this is precisely the gift we are given.
The gospel speaks to our desire for meaning, hope, and purpose.
There’s a longing in our hearts that nothing in this world can satisfy. C.S. Lewis shrewdly acknowledged this reality and said that it’s because we are meant for another world. If this world is the product of evolutionary chance, then meaning, hope, and purpose are all delusions.
But if, in fact, we are made by God (in whose image we bear) then we wear the mark of ultimate meaning, hope, and purpose. As his images, it’s our prerogative to put on display God’s infinite value. We do this by living and representing the embodiment of his character and will. Outside of our Savior, there can be no meaning, hope, or purpose. But hidden in his life, death, and resurrection are the ultimate fulfillment of those things.
God has done something remarkable in the act of sheer mercy and love.
God has come among us, through the sending of his Son, to be the kind of human that we clearly have failed to be. We are incapable, but God can make right what we have made wrong. Jesus lived for us. He died for us, absorbing both the consequences and the collective result of humanity’s sin. He did this on our behalf. And in his power and love, God’s Son conquered death so that death would be incapable of getting the last word.
When people hear the story of Jesus, when they recognize their need to be saved from their sin and to be reconciled back to God – when they turn from their sin and give their loyalty and trust to him to follow him – then by faith they share in his resurrection and hope.
No longer will shame or regret fill our minds, and no longer do we have to wonder about our identity or mourn our losses. But through this powerful message, we can share the ultimate meaning of life, purpose, love, and hope.
No greater message than the message of Jesus.
No greater man than he.
No offer more valuable than God himself extending his love to us in Christ, and through him giving us back all that we had lost.