Contemplative – Holiness – Charismatic
Social Justice – Evangelical – Incarnational
We’re nearing the end of a series where we’re exploring the six great Christian traditions. Each of these broad Christian movements is founded in Scripture and the life and teaching of Jesus. As Christians, as part of the church, we belong to something much bigger than ourselves. We belong to a global and historic movement of God. And so, we’re exploring how we, as Jesus followers today, can learn from each of these traditions.
We’re trying to take the best from each one. Hopefully, you’re starting to see how all six traditions go together to form a more biblically complete vision of discipleship to Jesus.
We’ve looked at the contemplative, the holiness, the charismatic, and the social justice traditions, and now we’re ready for the evangelical.
What does it mean to be evangelical? That very loaded term is now widely misunderstood and frequently misrepresented. In recent years, the term evangelical has become highly politicized, invoked to describe a voting bloc or as a blanket label for those with conservative or even fundamentalist views. Perhaps because of this, some from within the tradition have dropped the label or left evangelicalism entirely.
So again, I ask, what does it mean to be evangelical?
Broadly speaking, the Evangelical Tradition of Christian life and faith focuses on the proclamation of the good news of the Gospel.
Great, wonderful! But what does that mean? I think it’s good to look at how Jesus defines this good news.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.” Mark 1.14-15
This Gospel, the good news – according to Jesus – is short and to the point.
The Kingdom of God has come near!
With it is the clear call to repent, which means literally “to turn around in your mind.” In other words, we should re-evaluate our whole way of living in light of this great reality. In the person of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of heaven has been made accessible to us all.
Even more than a verbal proclamation, Jesus was, and is, the living word of God in the flesh among us. He’s the embodiment of the very good news he proclaimed. All people can enter into a living and abundant life with God in his kingdom of love now.
I want to say this again…
The Gospel is the good news that, in Jesus himself, the doors are thrown wide open and the kingdom of God’s love has been made available to all now.
Jesus was absolutely clear about this.
“I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14.6)
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6.35)
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8.12)
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10.11)
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11.25)
What does this mean for us?
- It means we can be reconciled to God.
- It means we can experience the forgiveness of sins through the atoning death of Jesus on the cross.
- It means that by grace and through faith we receive God’s love for us.
- It means we enter into life in Christ as his disciples right now.
- It means we are enabled by the power of God to be transformed in a way that others, seeing it, will want it for themselves.
- It means we are given the honor of sharing this good news of ongoing life in Christ will others.
Here’s a challenge from me to you.
Think of a way that you can talk about Jesus with someone you care about.
And then go do that.
It doesn’t need to be extraordinary or well-thought-out or lengthy. In fact, it can be unexceptional and spontaneous and short.
Here’s the good news about the good news. It’s the Holy Spirit who changes lives. Not us. We are simply and solely witnesses to how good God is and to the transformation he has done in us.
No more, no less.