I wonder, sometimes, about things that it seems few others do. As a pastor, I think that comes naturally. (Polls, studies, etc. show that pastors tend to think differently than those in the pews.) But does that mean that my "wondering" is all a waste of time? Of course, I don't think so.
Today, I'm wondering a bit about the gospel (Good News). There seems to be a lot of talk about a social gospel - that is, Christianity's impact on social policy, human suffering, and the like. That impact is our world's way of measuring "relevance". That means, Christianity is measured by its impact on social policy and relief of human suffering - and it's the world that's doing the measuring. If we Christians are effective in our areas of influencing social policy and relieving human suffering, then we'll be given a hearing on more eternal matters. For that reason, many pastors are preaching on policy and love, and compassion, and getting involved in others' lives. Over against that comes the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel seems to many to be too far removed - pointing to events of over 2,000 years ago in an entirely different culture and part of the world. It becomes a situation of "show me how much you care before I'll care how much you know."
Having said that (and I thank you for following me this far), my "wondering" leads me to this question: which gospel is truly more relevant and helpful?
The Gospel of Christ leads to eternal salvation - so it helps forever. It leads to personal transformation - so it helps now. It leads to interpersonal relation - so it helps others. But it all starts with my choice to trust Jesus as my savior. I have no other savior but Him.
The Social Gospel leads to social reform - so it helps temporarily. It leads to personal relief - so it helps for the moment. It leads to interpersonal reach - so it helps others. But it offers nothing eternal, nothing truly transformational (personally). At best, it helps us live on earth, yet offers nothing for afterwards.
However, the love, compassion, outreach, and efforts to relieve suffering are part of both gospels - because even Jesus knew that people sense a need for these things very powerfully. If we fail to show others this, our ability to show how God cares for us will be lost on our coldness. I, for one, want to learn to show more compassion toward others, caring for their needs - so I can have the chance to show them God's compassion and care as demonstrated through the cross of Calvary! That's the better gospel - for it's truly Good News that will provide for all eternity, starting NOW!