Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. (from the Princess Bride)
That’s how I felt today during class as we looked at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The word wasn’t, “Inconceivable!” though. The word was Gospel.
We sailed on some pretty deep waters today with questions like, “When did Jesus know that he was divine?” And Shawn’s dangerous question: “ Wasn't it crazy for God to put everything on a plan that Jesus could've said “No.” to?" We talked about demons and the important and incredible connections between the story Matthew, Mark and Luke tell with the story we find in Genesis and Exodus and in Isaiah and Daniel.
But the big idea that still nags at me tonight is this...
We say, “I got to share the gospel with someone today!” And I hear Inigo say, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I would even go so far as to say that we’ve led people to “believe” in a gospel that isn’t.
In a way, this study has made me feel more rooted in the Vineyard movement more than I have ever felt before because I think at the core of the Vineyard is the gospel, the real one. I'm quite sure we've muffed it by times, we've defaulted to the traditional gospel by times (I don’t know how to refer to this thing yet that is called gospel but isn't) and we've even led people on adventures in missing the point. But at our best we’re embracing the Gospel that Jesus preached and that’s got me energized.
So, what’s the gospel? Here it is in the NIV. Forget everything you know and pretend for a half hour you’re a first century Jew, living in exile in your own homeland like sheep without a shepherd and somebody whispers in your ear: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
First, don't repent of all the naughty things you've done. Repent of what you think the Kingdom of God ought to be. Repent of reducing the Kingdom of God to just another super power that seeks the same thing every other super power seeks. Repent of seeing the Kingdom as a way of finally getting on top and putting someone else on the bottom for a change.
Perhaps it would be more clear if you imagined you and your family as slaves on the auction block and just before the bidding starts for your children, someone leans over and whispers in your ear: “I’m setting you all free right now to live free together forever. Your Story is getting a new ending.” Or maybe imagine yourself in the clinic for chemo to fight your aggressive cancer and just before they hit the button to start another round of body wrecking treatment someone leans over and whispers in your ear, “Treatment ends today with healing. Take what I offer and your Story will have a happy ending.” Or you might even imagine that you are all alone, orphaned and without a friend in the world and you’re just about to jump off a bridge and someone whispers in your ear, “It’s adoption day. From now on you have a permanent home and a permanent family by whom you can be fully known and unconditionally loved.” And if you heard all three of those whispers you’d be at just the start of what makes the gospel so great.