A friend of mine leaned against the door frame, his head cocked to the side and his eyebrows raised at me.“Sometimes I think you just need to stop listening to so many voices,” he said.
He was right. But he was also wrong.
That was three years ago. I was on a rescue mission for my faith, and it was proving hard to find. I listened to sermons from Keller to Bell, Driscoll to Washer, Spurgeon to Buechner, but it was only one that eventually unveiled the truth to me. I read books from Lewis to Harris, Winner to Lamott, Miller to Piper, and still, just one, a plain white one with black lettering, pushed through the rocky soil and revealed the answer to me.
We are pushed from all sides and all opinions—opinions there are no shortages of in 2013. Truth, though, this is a commodity, hot or not.
Sometimes the truth is easily found; it floats to the surface amid the slickly oiled world. But sometimes the truth must be mined, dug down deeply in, beyond the mud, the soil and the rocks. And the truth about both of those truths is we will not see them unless we are looking.
Every Tuesday night a group of girls sprawls out around my living room. We are delving and looking together, seeing what we can find. A few nights ago we talk about the gospel, the buzzword gets lost in the shuffle, at least in our church. Everyone talks about the gospel at our church. Being gospel-centered, gospel-minded, gospel-driven, gospel, gospel, gospel. (Be careful or you’ll get tongue-tied.)
But what is the gospel? This is the question we’re asking last night. What is the good news?
Here’s some good news: in a room of 12 people, we had 12 different definitions of the gospel. Here’s some more good news: all the definitions were somehow the same.
This is good news because the gospel is intensely personal, and the gospel is wildly grand. It is near to you in a way I will never know it, and it is so far from both of us that we will spend the rest of our lives trying to know it more.
The challenge is we will not always know where to look, and we are less than discerning readers these days. We gobble up tweets and statuses and links and blogs and articles and books like Tiny Tim at the Christmas feast: we are voracious where we lack in discernment.
Because we know the gospel is wildly grand, and heaven comes to earth, and God wins (and has already won), this is okay. We can keep reading, keep mining, keep wrestling with confidence that his kingdom is safe and his Word does not return void.
But because the gospel is intensely personal, and it changes us every single day whether we intend for it to or not, this is not okay, because what we eat becomes us, and if we are eating poor theology, pointless words, or simply subsisting on entertainment, we will be fat on a feast that will ruin us.
As tongue-tied as the gospel might make us, it is the only thing that ultimately has the power to change us.