What is the Gospel? part 2: “Supplanting the Steward”

One way to understand what the Gospel of Jesus is, is to seek understanding as to what it means for our lives. What do you think of when you think of living out Gospel in the world?  For many, this simply means living as others, but with moral behavior, Christian interests, and a nicer than average disposition. But as a good friend recently said, “no one is ever drawn to ask about the Gospel because I’m nice.”  In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus sends out the Twelve to preach “the gospel of the kingdom.”  They are to be as shrewd as vipers, but as innocent as doves. Yet, he promises them that they will be hated for it, called devils.  Many times in fact, Jesus tells of the ire which our preaching and living his message will incite.  Does this sound like the kind of “making the gospel attractive” that we hear so much about?  What is this ‘gospel’ that, for proclaiming it, innocent men will be thought devils?

The gospel of God’s kingdom, if rightly understood, is an affront to the kingdom of the world.  It is offensive.  It is telling people, “The Lord is king, and you are not.”  And only when this is made actual and complete will evil be defeated and life come.  The “good news” is that evil is being defeated, and for those who feel its sting, that is good news indeed!  For those who profit by evil and inequity in the world, and whose lives are made more comfortable by it, it is offensive.  If you’ve seen the movie Return of the King, the rightful king has come for his throne and, like the Steward of Gondor, many of us refuse to relinquish it. The steward is not commanded to be nicer, to rule his kingdom as the true king would.  He is called to step down and serve.  And we all know how he responds to that.

The steward is not commanded to be nicer, to rule his kingdom as the true king would.  He is called to step down and serve.

“The steward is not commanded to be nicer, to rule his kingdom as the true king would. He is called to step down and serve.”

Here’s a big statement.  The Gospel, the “good news” Jesus sends us with is that the Kingdom of God is here, advancing, redeeming the world, in the work of overcoming all evil in the world through love, and that we, through grace, are offered pardon for our rebellion by the death and resurrection of Jesus, and called to be a member of that Kingdom through faithfully joining in that work. Only by a complete supplanting of the steward can this happen.  We are also called to love our king.  Yet we can only love him by obeying him, and we can only truly obey him by loving him.

Notice in the above statement that there is both “grace” and “work”.  The two are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are both  necessary. There is also much more than simply making sure we go to heaven when we die, but that is a big part of it.  The Kingdom is at work and we must be a part of that work if we are a part of that kingdom. Many will dub this “earning” or “works righteousness”, but the Christ calls it “obedience” which he also calls “love”.  We must not be confused by this.  Does a servant “earn” his job by his work?  And is he still a servant if he neglects to serve? Imagine you had an employee who claimed you had given him his job through grace, and he didn’t want to be seen as “earning” that job by working.  This is a controversial topic, but we must begin to re-understand  the Gospel as Jesus taught it.  If we don’t see the response that he told us we would receive, perhaps we’re not preaching the same gospel.

It’s too much for one post to go into all of the implications of this in our lives, but it is definitely one of the major topics I’ll be exploring in this blog.  Suffice to say, this “supplanting of the Steward” must be complete and total.  And it is much farther reaching and radical in our lives than many of us are willing to accept. Yet that is what Jesus calls us to, and therefore what we are to offer to the world, whatever that may mean for how the world regards us.

Does our understanding of the gospel elicit the results Jesus promised us?  Why or why not?

Lord help us to understand so that we may truly believe, and truly serve your kingdom.

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