The coming New Year gently prods us to change. Or maybe causes enough guilt that we try to rally the troops and make appropriate changes for a better life. It is a natural starting point, an excuse for a do-over. We look for the New Thing to change our life, to spark some excitement, to make us feel good about ourselves. The New Thing is different from the old boring thing. The New Thing becomes the key to unlock the cell of stagnation that we find ourselves living in.
The truth is that a New Thing can be just an excuse not to think through an Old Thing that is good and important. The Apostle Paul was in Athens, Greece on one of his missionary journeys. He was an intellectual and a serious Christian apologist. While in Athens Paul became troubled because of the many idols that were worshiped. Instead of being overwhelmed by the cornucopia of beliefs shared by the Athenians Paul took action and began to reason with the people. He took his reasoning to the synagogue and to the market place. He reasoned with them everyday. (Acts 17:16-20)
The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began arguing with him. They had Paul come to the Areopagus wanting to learn of the new teaching that he was speaking of. They were excited to learn of another way to practice spirituality. Luke chronicles the problem in verse 21. “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.” (HCSB)
The Athenian problem is rampant throughout American Christianity. Our culture of trendy fads and social acceptance infiltrates Christian circles and pollutes the Gospel. The method of delivering the Gospel becomes more important than the message of the Gospel. Great emphasis is placed on how we can best communicate the message.
The all important message is that man is dead in sin. He is hopeless. He has broken the moral law of God and is forever separated from Him. There is no way that which is dead can respond. God in His mercy sent His only Son Jesus to take upon Himself the wrath of God that was reserved for humankind. And so Jesus was crucified on a cross in fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and died for the sins of many. (Heb. 9:28) He was buried in a borrowed tomb and on the third day He rose again. God calls us from our state of death to newness of life in Christ. We repent of our sin and live a new life before others.
Paul states in Galatians 1:8-9 that if we preach any other Gospel we are cursed, cursed by God. But the same message gets old and boring and lacks luster and newness. Right? Wrong. The Gospel is the most liberating message the world has ever known. I’m free, truly free in Christ. I was a terrible sinner. I was dead in my sin. God set me free through Jesus Christ. It never gets old. I’m free to do the good works that I was created to do. (Eph. 2:8-10)
The world doesn’t need a new gospel, a re-imagined gospel, a social gospel, or a personal gospel. There is no such thing. There is only The Gospel. God is looking for The Gospel to be preached and disciples made until Jesus returns. It is our responsibility to stay true to the Scriptures and share from our lips the great and wonderful Good News to all.