Simply put, it's more than you can imagine.
Last week I wrote about The Minimalist Gospel. Not that there is any such thing. I only used the classification to describe a customized pseudo-Gospel. One filling a need in a person’s life. But not breathing life into a person’s need.
I suggested a minimalist Gospel doesn’t require pain or sacrifice. That it adopts a repentance falling short of the command. I insinuated people are zombies. That we all need the same amount of fixing. It’s hard to accept we’re completely lost. Utterly hopeless. That even our goodness required the death of the spotless Lamb of God.
This is where we meet the lavish Gospel. While a minimalist approach resists pain and sacrifice, the lavish Gospel begins with it. Not ours, but His. This is the starting point and it’s not easy for a minimalist to see. It’s unpleasant. It takes God and makes Him one of us. Someone whose skin is torn from his bones. Someone who appears hopeless. How can He help us? Doesn’t the very word gospel refer to good news? Violence and death are the opposite of what we expect to find when we’re hoping for good news. But the death of Christ was our death. The substitution. Our sin and rebellion against God was met by His pain and sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin and rebellion against God. That’s the good news.
Disregarding the complete truth about the death of Christ leads minimalists to curb their repentance. This is not to suggest the work of Christ is dependent on our rigorous understanding of what it means to repent. We can’t and don’t understand much when we answer God’s call. If you met God with the idea you could give up some bad behavior, you didn’t do anything wrong.
But repentance should move us far beyond giving up our assorted sins to total abandonment of our rebellion. Though we most certainly will get a new attitude about sin, repentance doesn’t mean we stop sinning completely. Repentance means we stop running from God. A minimalist Gospel keeps us tripping toward the goal. A lavish Gospel lets us rest at the finish line.
I wrote that a minimalist Gospel doesn’t demand you give up everything. You don’t have to let go of your ways of getting by. You can keep on trying to please God. Your method of getting into His good graces might work. This is the mistake of the minimalist. It’s only His way that’s fail-proof. Trust in the finished work of Christ—His death and resurrection—and you’ve got it. God is pleased with you. Sin has no hold on you. Death will not get you. Good news. Real repentance. Lavish Gospel.
I also implied a minimalist Gospel doesn’t gain you anything. It might get you some guilt relief, but it’ll be temporary. You may find yourself believing God has blessed your minimalist approach if your life is going just right. But there’s a deal breaker in your future. God will make a move you don’t like or understand. And you will no longer trust Him. A minimalist Gospel won’t endure. It takes a lavish Gospel to hold you together when your world comes undone.
But is lavish a good way to describe the Gospel? It’s simple, really. And straightforward. You don’t need to be a theologian. If you like to keep things plain and unpretentious, say hello to Jesus. In that respect, I think He might be a minimalist. If you want to be lavished with unfathomable freedom and never-ending love from the God of the universe, then say hello to Jesus. He’s got something planned that you can’t imagine.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21