One of Heath Davis‘ passions is helping reorient the church to the overarching implications of the Gospel. Here is a recent post from Heath:
What is the gospel?
Social justice, community reform, personal morality should never be mistaken as the gospel itself. They are actually the IMPLICATIONS of the gospel fleshed out into our life and world. Social Justice, for instance, is a tentacle, an extension, an outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A tentacle is an attachment…something that grows out of the core substance of something. Like we find on a jellyfish. . .the tentacles grow out of the core and are connected to the core, but only represent a part or an extension of the whole.
I think the same is true of the gospel. When we trace our behaviors, values, choices, thoughts back to their source, everything should be sourced in the essence of the gospel: that God is rebuilding his Kingdom precisely through His own incarnation, suffering death and resurrection on behalf of mankind.
So, feeding the poor, helping a handicapped person, saying “no” to sexual temptation, attending church, handling personal rejection, or spending money…all of these things become natural implications in our lives of coming into a right relationship with the living God through Jesus. All of these things are the implications, the tentacles, of the all-encompassing gospel of Jesus, but they are NOT in themselves the gospel. Historically, liberal Christianity has mistaken the gospel for social justice. Conservative Christianity has mistaken the gospel for personal morality. Both sides have drank different flavors of the same poison. Neither social justice, nor personal morality are the gospel. Both, however are both implications of the gospel at work, and should be tentacles in a gospel centered life. But, they are not the gospel themselves.
Our problem today, whether on the left or the right, is the need to embrace the gospel and then think through the profound implications of the the gospel. As, Tim Keller’s quote below goes on to say…a central problem in our lives stems from not thinking, perceiving, contemplating how the gospel reorients all of life. He writes:
“The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church”.