I collect hats, all kinds of hats. Every Christmas I ask for a new hat. I own (and wear) fedoras, cowboy hats, porkpie hats, cabbie caps, “player” hats, pub caps, trilbys, ball caps, and knit beanies.
As fall recently turned to winter I tried on one of my favorite warm hats only to discover it was too small. No, my head didn’t expand from an overabundance of hubris; the hat had shrunk. (All my other hats still fit nicely, thank you very much.) There’s not a lot you can do with a fitted hat that’s too small. Even if you can cram it down on top of your head, it will still look ridiculous. Plus it will be a pain to wear and leave a silly red mark all around your noggin.
I’ve recently been wondering if some of us aren’t suffering from a gospel that is too small. Rather than enjoying the rich benefits of a relationship with God in Christ, we have limited the gospel to a get-out-of-hell-free card. It’s important, but not particularly relevant to our everyday lives. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t share the gospel with others is because we really don’t see it in all its glory. Maybe that’s also the reason we settle for a program of behavior modification rather than a fully-formed relationship with the Creator of the Universe.
What if the gospel is far more brilliant, complex, and germane than we thought? The opening verses of the book of Ephesians make me think it is. There we read that we are blessed, adopted, redeemed, and given an inheritance. These are all relational words. To be blessed is most often to be in relationship with the one who blesses. To be adopted is to be grafted into another’s family. To be redeemed is to be purchased, bought back. To be given an inheritance implies standing in the family. Already we’re talking about way more than simply avoiding hell when we die.
There’s more. Each of these four words has significance for today. None of the verb tenses used are simply future. Yes, we’ll fully experience our inheritance in glory, but even now we have the Holy Spirit himself living in us as a down payment on that inheritance.
If we’re blessed with every spiritual blessing, then we can be confident we have every resource we need to face whatever happens today. (2 Peter 1:3) If we’ve been adopted by the King of kings, then we can be confident that he is our protector. We needn’t fear any person, event, or circumstance. (Psalm 91) If we’ve been redeemed, we can be confident all our guilt and shame has been taken away. We can live free from past regrets. (Psalm 103:12) If God has given us an inheritance, we can be confident that he will be faithful to bring us safely to the day of receiving it fully. We can live free from worry about the future. (Philippians 1:6)
This is a gospel that is as big as the God who made it possible. This is a gospel that is relevant to every aspect and every minute of our lives. This is a gospel worth sharing with everyone who will listen. And honestly, we've just begun to scratch the surface.
Don’t be satisfied with a tiny beanie of a gospel. Dig into the rich, glorious gospel described in Scripture. Proclaim it in love with the confidence that all who respond will be transformed by it. (Romans 1:16)
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