Randomly stop by theMILL office and you may find me and any number of staff members playing foursquare. That’s right – the game many of us played at recess in grade school. The goal is always to get to the first square or, as we like to call it, “the king square.” Often disputes arise between players (Joe Kirkendall is frequently involved) about a ball landing in or out of bounds, especially if progressing to the next square is at stake. Without any clear evidence, a “do over” is frequently called. The last play is discarded and everyone gets another chance.
I wonder if we talk about the Gospel like this—as a retry, a do-over, a second chance or maybe even an unlimited set of chances. If we say things like “God wants to give you a second chance,” or, “Say yes to Jesus and he will help you live well,” are we really talking about the core of salvation?
The Gospel is not about our past mistakes being erased, God patting us on the back and saying, “Go give it another try.” It isn’t even about Jesus walking along side us to whisper some wisdom in our ear or give some strength to do better. When we talk this way we are subtly communicating that the work of Jesus is about making us better. But we have to first remember something more fundamental—that without Christ we are dead. Colossians 1:27 in the Message translation says, “The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message.” Being a Christian isn’t about some outside help from Jesus; it is about Him moving in and dealing a deathblow to death itself. II Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) says “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
The Gospel is not about going from bad to good, but about going from dead to alive! That is the message of the Gospel.