Religion

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

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 de-contextualizing 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?

Contact Pastor Geoff Henderson at geoff@harborcommunitychurch.org or follow him on Twitter @theapostleGH. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Bradenton Herald written by local clergy members.

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