Over the weekend I spent some time painting our house. It was good to be outside doing the work and, boy, what a difference it made. Where there once was an ugly pink fibro wall there is now a red cedar one. Here’s how it’s going. My wife thinks I look like a hobbit in this photo. I’m not really that small, it’s just that it’s a big tin of paint.
All of this work made me think about how we share the gospel of Jesus. People can reconnect with God through Jesus. This is the good news of the Gospel. When you think about it, this means that no matter what is going on in our life, God is able to step in. Our unique relationship with God means that he hears our cries to him. They move him. And he acts on our behalf. This is the message of Jesus’ life. In the midst of our inability to relate to God, Jesus stepped in and made it all possible. This is the fundamental aspect of the gospel – we can know God personally because we can go through Jesus.
This is the message Jesus asks us to carry to everyone we know but sometimes we think it isn’t good enough. In my experience the gospel is often shared highlighting what it will do for you. It will give you a good life. It will get you off drugs. God will bless you financially. All your problems will go away. Don’t get me wrong, those things may happen (notice I said may), but it is not the central message of the gospel.
It seems like we feel that being in a right relationship with God isn’t really what people want – instead they want stuff. If we can tack on relationship as an added extra then we’ve done a good job. But think about the message we actually send. ‘What really matters is you. You are number one and God is there to work for you.’ None of us would actually say this, but isn’t that what can come across?
The Painted House
All of this comes back to the painted house. You see, when we highlight things that aren’t central to the gospel and try to peddle these, we are painting the house. We are making sure it looks pretty and attractive. But what good is it to have a nice looking house if it is empty on the inside? It is almost as though God is waiting inside but all we want to show people is how good it looks from the outside. So we invite others to do likewise. We can tell them that they too can have a great looking house. Their garden can always be flowering too. All they need to do is apply the same paint to their life. Meanwhile God is still waiting for someone to come inside.
Of course I’m overstating it a bit. The gospel needs to be applied to every part of our lives but I ask the question, when we share the gospel what is it that we invite people to experience? Do we offer the exterior gospel experience or do we invite people inside to experience life with Jesus?