I have heard so many versions of the gospel and its core theme that it’s hard to keep track anymore. Someone always has the latest in theological advice or new principle to present to you. One person says that faith is the common thread running throughout the entire Bible. Another says that hope is the common element. Still another says that redemption is what ties the book together. Still others argue over whether the gospel should be preached or shown. Everyone highlights a particular theme in the Bible, whether it is a virtue of their childhood or what they’ve experienced throughout their journey. With all of these ideas and opinions, how can we pinpoint what the true message of the gospel is? What is the core principle?
I think that we like to over-complicate the gospel. We’re told of so many steps we have to complete in order to be a good Christian. All of these ideas are great, and there is much wisdom to be gained from all of these lessons and beliefs, but they are not the gospel. The gospel is simple. It couldn’t be more so. Everything else is important, and we need to study theology and discuss the complexities of life and this faith we cling to, but the Gospel at its core is simple and pure.
So what is the gospel? At it’s heart, what is it? I think it can be said in many ways, but the gospel is this: That God, loving His children so much, chose to sacrifice Himself for our sakes, redeeming us and bringing us to Him. That is the gospel. There is much more to be learned in our journey of faith, but we must not forget our core. This core, this heart, is one of love. The gospel tells us that God loves us. Fully, unconditionally, and without regards for custom or restraint.
The Bible at its core seeps with love. That is the common thread because God is love. 1 John paints a clear picture of this connection between the Gospel and love:
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-11
This is it. There’s nothing more to add to it. God’s reckless love is the basis of this relationship we have with Him. At the core of our faith is this one, simple word: Love.
Don’t forget it. We all have different elements of that truth that we embody; some may be called to give hope our community, while others share His truth. Regardless of everything else that makes us who we are, we all hold to this one truth. Don’t get caught up in the legalism of doing everything exactly as a Christian should and checking boxes to ensure you believe the proper doctrines. All that is good, but secondary. Spend your life simply loving others. The rest will come after.