Monday, October 15, 2007

The Whole Gospel From All Angles

A recent post at the Thinklings, as well as a session that my wife taught at a retreat this weekend (Holistic Health), got me thinking about the Gospel. The whole Gospel. Most spiritual people, even if they don't follow Jesus specifically, tend to be able to tell you what they think the Gospel is.

The simple answer for most Christians is that the Gospel is the "Good News" of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Some have been arguing that the Gospel is really something else - specifically, it is offering social justice to the oppressed. A few are slowly beginning to realize that it is both and even more.

A few months ago, my wife and I attended a "community health evangelist" training at our old church back in Waco. The session started off by looking at Jesus' mission statement. When Jesus began his public ministry, you see him in the temple reading a specific passage from Isaiah (chapter 61, verse 1, but I have included more here):
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners (or the blind),

to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Many people look at these verses from the spiritual angle. When He speaks of restoring sight for the blind, we think that God will give (in)sight to the spiritually blind. The interesting thing is, Jesus then went around physically healing the blind.

The intent of The Gospel was to minister to the whole person - physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. And we see this is so in the verse from Isaiah above (with a smattering of social justice thrown in for good measure). Take a look at this part of the scriptures from a non-spiritual angle:
  • "to preach good news to the poor": what is better news for the poor than to know that their oppression is gone? That they can be free from debt maybe? There's your social justice.
  • "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted": healing our emotional wounds and issues.
  • "to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners": freedom from addictions (physical health), from oppressive relationships (social health), from destructive emotional conditions?
  • "to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion... and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair": emotional comfort in tragic situations.
  • "They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations": rebuild devastated communities, or even social relationships.
  • "And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God": even when looking at this scripture from a non-spiritual angle, there is still an obvious reference to addressing spiritual issues.
The interesting thing is that Jesus took this passage of scripture from both a spiritual and non-spiritual angle at the same time, and lived his life fulfilling both angles daily.

1 comment:

Bird said...

Good thoughts, Crossbow.