2 Corinthians 9:13 – Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (NIV 2011)
Sharing the gospel these days is very different from how it was done during the apostle Paul's time. Some people try to encapsulate the whole gospel into a couple of phrases like "love one another" or "do not judge", making it easy to remember and simple to apply. However, Christ's gospel comes to us mainly in four New Testament books, comprising eighty-nine separate chapters. Condensing the good news into a couple of words can unintentionally diminish Christ's life, ministry, and teaching. It may be convenient for us to carry a couple of verses in our hearts and minds, but we could end up with a very superficial understanding of what the gospel can actually teach us.
In the first couple of centuries of our faith, people laid their lives on the line for the sake of the gospel. They wouldn't have done that for just a couple of moralistic mottoes. Christ's life, death, and resurrection meant everything to them, even if it cost them their livelihood or existence. Those first Christians understood that the gospel was greater than anything that they had encountered or experienced; to them, it was infinitely more important than life or death itself.
Currently, our church's confirmation students are reading and studying the Gospel of Mark. By the time their classes are concluded, they will have read all of it, as well as completing homework assignments about each chapter. The young people also have their own questions, ideas, and opinions about Christ's life, ministry, and death. They are learning that the gospel has much more depth to it, as well as how it can radically influence their daily decisions and challenge their personal lives.
Perhaps, if more church members were to consistently read and re-read the Gospels, they would also embrace and understand the real message of the New Testament narratives. Having only a couple of biblical verses in our hearts and minds is not enough to sustain our spirits or grow our faith. If we truly want to become committed Christians, then surely we need to know what the entire gospel is about, so that we can positively apply and generously share Christ's teachings.
Questions for personal reflection: What was the last Gospel that I fully read? How can I organize reading the Gospels on a regular basis?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, all that we know about You comes mainly from the Gospels. Without them, we would not know what You said or did. Help us to read and re-read the Gospels on a regular basis, so that we can learn to understand and know what You want us to do with the remainder of our lives. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "All For Jesus" (Lyrics)