The Gospel & Us: God is always with us

God with us

A few nights ago, I was reading the bible with my daughter as we (attempt) to do every night before she falls asleep. It’s a practice that I believe isn’t about her learning as much it is about us learning together. I want her to see that spending time in the word is good for the soul, especially before she sleeps. I also want her to see that her dad’s willingness to interrupt whatever he’s doing to spend time with her for the name of Jesus. I hope someday, she will be able to look back on those nights and attribute that to one of the reasons she became a follower of Jesus. On this particular night however, my daughter asked me a question. Normally, as we read, I use different voices to read each story, she laughs, and then I ask her questions about the story and how we can apply it to our lives (with hints of how to answer the question…lol). But on this night, she wanted to know something. She asked me, “Daddy, what is a gospel?”

As a pastor, you would think this answer would come flowing with ease and simplicity. You would think that I would be able to answer this question with no hesitation. You would think that I wouldn’t have to think about the answer or how to form a response. Well you’re assumption would be wrong. I found myself in that moment searching and racking my brain, unable to produce a simple answer for my 5 yr old to understand. It’s not because I didn’t know the answer! I know what a gospel is, I know what THE gospel is! But she’s five…not 25 or 35. I can’t give her the theological break down of the gospel, nor did I want to give her the kid answer of just the “good news.” I wanted to give her an answer that would resonate with her, that would give her comfort but also conviction about how she fits into the gospel story. I wanted to give her the good, the bad, and the ugly news of this life and the life to come. Sugarcoating it is a disservice to her (no offense to parents who do – you raise your kids as you feel led), but condemning the news only creates more confusion and doubt. I said to her, “Keira, the gospel is God’s story of how he is reconnecting his creation to its creator. Its God’s way of telling us the FULL story.

I proceeded to link Adam and Eve to our “bad behavior” and how the rest of the bible was God trying to show us we needed him. Jesus then comes (who is God in the human skin) to help us reconnect with God. After Jesus died and came back to life (you should have seen her face), We now can connect with God in a very special way. I said to her…”Keira, this is the gospel story, God is always with us, God is always for us (those who love God), and God is always ahead of us. We prayed, told her I loved her forever and ever and kissed her good night. That was the end of our discussion. However, it wasn’t the end of my mind racing with all the possibilities from that conversation. Not only was I thinking about the implications it had for Keira and her question (it means Jesus is doing a work and I am so thankful that He allows me to be her father and to teach her about him), but the implications it had for me, for you, for everyone.

The Gospel isn’t just the “good” news about us never having to face hell or disconnection from our creator is we believe and live in Jesus. It’s not only about the “bad” news of our disobedience against our creator or the depravity of humanity and it’s lost cause. The Gospel isn’t just about the theological theories or sound doctrines we christians fight for or against. The Gospel isn’t just about the outward missional or the inward discipleship focus of the church. The Gospel is ALL OF THE ABOVE, it is all inclusive, and more importantly, it is all about God, God’s story, God’s plan, and of course…US!

The Gospel in essence can be summed up into these three things (in my opinion)…

 God is with us always…

 God is for us always…

 God is ahead of us always…

God Is With Us Always:

Driving interstate 40 from Paso Robles, CA to Indianapolis, IN, viewing the mountainous terrain, seeing the depths of the Grand Canyon, getting married, watching plants grow, seeing rain, being present at the birth of new life, flying 30,000 ft in the air, watching people of different nations come together…

How can you NOT believe that God’s presence is always with us? I always find it funny when I hear people pray and ask God to “show up” or to be “near” with them on that certain day. It’s not that they aren’t taking God serious, its more so that they don’t think big enough. When you wake each morning and breathe life again, how can you not think God was there in that moment? When you avoid a near death experience of spilling your Starbucks coffee on you, how can you not think God was somehow the one who prevented it? When the doctor comes back into the room and the look on his face tells you your world is about to come crashing down, how can you not think that God is holding you tight in that moment? God isn’t some magic genie that shows up only in times of need or when you “call” name. God is the God who is ALWAYS with you.

The Gospel speaks to this truth (when I say “Gospel,” I am referring to the entire 66 books – inspired word of God). We can see though out the entirety of scripture, this forever present God who despite our mis-guided attempts at doing this life alone, continually make known his ongoing, never-ending, never failing presence in the story of humanity.

God was with the first humans even after their disobedience allowed brokenness and disconnection to enter into the human story.

God was with Cain even after he killed his brother.

God was with Noah during probably the worst corruption in human history.

God was with the hebrew slaves before Egypt, during Egypt, and after Egypt.

God was with the chosen nation even in its disobedience.

God was with us in the flesh.

God was with us on the cross.

God was with us in the grave.

God was with us at the resurrection.

God was with us at the ascension.

We don’t have to ask God to be with us because He is already there. He has always been there. He will always be there.

In one of the many moments of Jesus, the writers of the New Testament records a statement that has huge implications as it relates to how God will deal with us after Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. The writer tells us to keep our focus on the things of God and be happy with what we have because he (he being Jesus) said, “…I will never leave you, nor will I forsake you.” If we have hope, trust, and faith in the one who is called sustainer, perfecter, author, cornerstone, foundation, how can we not know, believe, and trust that the LORD is with us always!

As the song goes…

“ You will be our guide to the end, the LORD is with me, He will NOT forsake me.”

Our understanding of this amazing truth leads us to a better understanding of the Gospel as it relates to us! When we know, believe, and trust in the fact that God is always with us then we can find all that we need in Him.

We can find freedom from our brokenness…

We can find hope in a hopeless world…

We can find healing not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually…

We can find strength to continue on…

We can find mercy and forgiveness not only for ourselves but for others who have hurt us…

We can find restoration in our creator…

When you allow this truth to resonate within, you will begin to see life in a whole new way. The things that use to seem normal and mundane become alive again. No longer will that scroll through the park seem boring. You begin to view life in the question of “what isn’t God’s presence in?” The answer I hope you find is…

Nothing…God is always present and with us

ALWAYS…

(Come back for the 2nd installment of “The Gospel & Us: God is always for us”)

2 thoughts on “The Gospel & Us: God is always with us

  1. Michael I truly enjoyed your blog about the gospel and Jesus being the all in all. This was like a mini sermon and it was great. Thank you for being you and coming to Indy. I was actually thinking of your wife Erica today. I pray that some of the younger folks have wrapped their arms around her to make her feel welcome and make new friends. You are so busy and I just found myself with these thoughts.

    Like

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