I believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins.
I believe that we are saved by grace through faith.
I believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
But… that’s not the WHOLE gospel. It’s the best part, but it’s not the whole thing.
The whole gospel is that God cares about the whole person. I’m pretty sure Rick McKinley was the first person I heard say it that way. Or it might have been one of the 2,103 verses in the bible that talk about the poor (financially), the oppressed, and the marginalized.
God cares that people don’t have clean, safe drinking water, about people who go hungry, about people who are homeless. He also cares that their souls are broken and thirsty, and in need of healing that I believe can only be found in Him. To be a pastor, you should probably care about both of those things too.
If I had to pick one of those two things as a priority, I’d pick the soul because it lasts forever. But, here’s my beef with that cropped gospel:
People need to live long enough to actually hear that part of the gospel.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can care about, and address both needs.
I write this because twice this week I’ve been questioned about the gospel by two pastors who used to know me pretty well. They asked if I prioritize the gospel enough.
I know that Jesus offers “living water”, but you’ll never swim in that lake if you’re a 5-year-old, malnourished African boy who drinks dirty water every day and suffers from dysentery. If you show up in that kid’s community with a tract about 4 steps and a cute bridge, they’re gonna say YES to your gospel (because they’re polite). But what they really need is a holistic, comprehensive plan for restoration. Not a ticket to heaven. Jesus offers both.
A “gospel” that doesn’t care about physical needs isn’t good news at all.