How I muddied up a good report.
After years of resolute belief in the message of the Gospel and reliance on the power of Christ to transform me, I figured I’d come to some conclusions. I was, and am, willing to write about the profound and far-reaching matters of Scripture and, though I’m no theologian, perhaps I can pass on enough truth to encourage a believer or convince a doubter. A lofty goal. I don’t know much, and what I do know doesn’t always boast a flawless execution.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog called “The Unwavering Severity of the Gospel.” Within those paragraphs meant to expound on the simple truth and unfailing power of what Christ did, I stepped into a theological hole. I lost my footing. I tripped on the truth. I leaned a little to the left of the Good News. And I didn’t even feel the ground sinking beneath my proud feet.
The blog got a lot of hits. It got retweeted. I soaked in a couple of positive comments. Nobody said a word about my misstep into the muck. About how I’d muddied the spotless beauty of the Gospel. If you noticed it and shook your head, forgive me. If you’d like to go back and try to spot my stumble before you read the rest of this, go ahead. Hey, if Brian Williams can come clean, so can I.
Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/1KagSIE
A few days passed before the blog was read by my son. My offspring. I’m the one who raised him in church, who prayed with him when he received the message of the Gospel. The younger generation. He’s the one who should be learning from me. Yet he came to point out the mud on my feet. To pull me from the hole I’d dug with my words.
I crossed my brow when he said, “The Gospel does not demand death as penalty for sin.”
That’s what I’d written in my explanation of the severity of the Gospel—that it’s harsh in its demand of death as penalty for sin. I think about it that way. Other Christians talk about it that way.
My son held his ground. “That is not at all what the Gospel is about.”
“But…” And just like that I got it. I knew it all along. I saw the gaping hole when I walked down that blogging path, and I stepped in it anyway. It’s easy to get muddy there. But so important to keep on the path.
The Gospel does not make the demand. The law does.
They carry separate messages—the law and the Gospel. One uncovers our sin. The other buries it. One proves our guilt. The other wipes it away. One demands payment. The other pays it in our stead.
My son, glad for my realization, pounded the edge of one hand against the open palm of the other. “That’s why we need to teach the law,” he said. “So people know the difference.”
Teach the law? Well, I have studied more than just the Ten Commandments. I’ve learned enough to be sure no one could ever obey all the laws of the Old Testament. Not the ancient Hebrew, nor the modern-day Christian. And that’s the point. The bad news. The muddy rut in the road. It’s not the focus for most of us. But if we don’t hear the bad news, will we ever understand what’s so altogether good about the Good News?
I think I’ll go peruse the Pentateuch.