Here in the United States there is the ongoing debate between those in legal, judicial roles among those in practice and scholars as to whether the US Constitution is a living or dead document. Dead only in that it is timeless in application, alive in that it has fresh application in different contexts. I’m sure there’s much more to it than that, and I may be off a tad or more in this summary of it. But that’s not the intent of this post, to try to understand that. The gospel itself transcends all time, and yet inhabits time as well, so that the response to it, while in a general fundamental level the same, is different according to context, that is the cultural context. For example the impact of the gospel in African nations will be different than its impact in European nations, its beauty seen in different ways in each, and appropriate to each cultural context.
But even that, not spelled out enough, or actually understood well enough by myself, is not the point of this post, either. The point is that the gospel is the living and powerful word which transcends yet inhabits every culture and space in time. The gospel being the proclamation that Jesus is King and Lord, that he died for our sins and was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures, and seen by many eyewitnesses. That someday all things now under his feet will be put in final subjection to him, so that God will be all in all (Acts 10; 1 Corinthians 15).
The gospel, contrary to what too many of us have been taught, is much more than the summons to faith, though it most certainly is that. That is called “the obedience of faith.” It is much more than one’s personal salvation. And it’s as big as all of life, reaching even into, and we might say especially into the political level, but on its own terms, and not on anyone or any other entity’s terms. It is as big as all of creation, bringing in the new creation, impacting all of life, and moving us in directions which celebrate our diveristy within unity, which one could say is something of what is at the heart of the life of the Trinity.
The gospel is the lens through which we read all of scripture, and see all of life. We’re taught, especially from the words of Jesus, how to live that gospel out. In a shorthand, basic way, the gospel is Jesus himself, no less. And all of God’s will in him. A good will, which will impact us for good or for ill, whether we like it or not. We can either accept the good news and begin to learn to live in that reality, or ignore and even reject that good news, which in the end will judge us and everything else. Of course only through Jesus do we reach the goal of that good news which is in Jesus. That gospel is what will ultimately move and shape the world when he returns, the beginning of that moving and shaking, along with shaping now in the church, itself, through the word and the sacraments, along with the common life, and in the church’s mission to the world. In and through Jesus.