When it comes to the gospel, don’t start in the mid­dle of the story

The Bradenton Herald - - Faith & Values - BY PAS­TOR GE­OFF HEN­DER­SON Con­tact Pas­tor Ge­off Hen­der­son at ge­[email protected]­bor­com­mu­ni­ty­church.org or fol­low him on Twit­ter @thea­pos­tleGH. Faith Mat­ters is a reg­u­lar fea­ture of Satur­day’s Braden­ton Her­ald writ­ten by lo­cal clergy members.

A well-known preacher, in an at­tempt to make the gospel more plau­si­ble to folks who have lim­ited Bi­ble knowl­edge, has en­cour­aged Chris­tians to de­tach Je­sus from the Old Tes­ta­ment and be­gin with the res­ur­rec­tion.

It is thought that if we be­gin with Je­sus, then we don’t have all that un­nec­es­sary bag­gage of dis­in­ter­est or even dis­gust that comes with the Old Tes­ta­ment.

I ap­plaud his concern to reach more folks and to con­tex­tu­al­ize the gospel to reach a new gen­er­a­tion that hasn’t heard, but dis­con­nect­ing Je­sus from the Old Tes­ta­ment is de­con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing and dis­con­nect­ing Je­sus from His own story.

It’s like walk­ing into the mid­dle of a con­ver­sa­tion or just hear­ing the end of a knock-knock joke.

A fel­low minister in my de­nom­i­na­tion in fairly sec­u­lar Washington, D.C., claimed that the sim­ple sto­ry­line of the Bi­ble has proved the most ef­fec­tive way to share Je­sus with folks un­fa­mil­iar with Him.

And, no, he doesn’t start in the mid­dle.

At Cre­ation, hu­man­ity had it all. When sin en­tered into the world, known as the Fall, we lost it all. But when Je­sus came for our Re­demp­tion, he paid it all. One day He will Re­store it all.

The story it­self raises the right ques­tions many are ask­ing and points us to the an­swer. Who can’t re­late to the dig­nity we all know we have? Many sim­ply as­sume dig­nity with­out con­sid­er­ing from where it came. Cre­ation. Who would ar­gue that the world isn’t as it should be? What’s wrong with it? Could it be some­thing we’ve done? The Fall.

But this sto­ry­line is just as nec­es­sary for those in­side the church so we can live in­side this story. It’s not just a story to share and tell, it’s one to taste and see.

When you read Ge­n­e­sis 3:15 and hear about a promised seed that will come to crush the line of the ser­pent, you be­gin to an­tic­i­pate Je­sus in the Old Tes­ta­ment.

With Noah, we re­ceive a prom­ise of a world never to be de­stroyed again by wa­ter. One step closer to Re­demp­tion.

Then with Abra­ham, you read about the prom­ise of a na­tion from which this child will come.

With Moses, we tip our hat to a new con­sti­tu­tion, and Joshua leads us to a land where this Sav­ior is to be born.

David be­gins a line kings that got off track and blew it for ev­ery­one. They got the boot and even when they came back, no one was singing, “Sweet Home Jerusalem,” any­more. Then 400 years of si­lence ...

Who can’t re­late to God be­ing too silent, feel­ing too dis­tant? How long oh Lord? Have you for­got­ten us? Don’t we sense this at times, too?

Then comes the lit­tle baby, 8-pound, 6-ounce Je­sus. But His baby hands only re­mind us that His hand has been in it all along.

We all love it when a plan comes to­gether. The an­swer be­comes not just sen­si­ble, but beau­ti­ful and hope­ful.

His peo­ple once waited 400 years in si­lence. Now that we both Old and New Tes­ta­ment, we can wait a lit­tle longer.

Af­ter all, Je­sus has done so much and is still busy work­ing.

Why not trust Him to fin­ish the story in His time?

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