Culturally and Contextually Discerning Gospel


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Gospel. Not the “Gospels” as in the first four books of the New Testament but the “Gospel” the Good News that Christ brought with him through his birth, life, death and resurrection here on earth. With Christmas just around the corner we’re going to be hearing of the Good News either directly from the Church or indirectly through Christmas carols, songs, and traditions.

All these different ways of hearing the Gospel this season are simply different modes for communicating the Good News of Christ. The modes of communication are not the Good News in and of themselves, simply cultural and contextual avenues to bring and bear truth. If we look at Paul’s letters in the New Testament there are reasons why he spends a lot of time talking about circumcision to one group of people and justification through faith to another. He took time to discern the cultural and contextual modes that would be most effective those he was speaking to hear the Good News of Christ. It is easy to get caught up in right vs wrong, sacred vs passing, tradition vs relevant modes of story telling during these seasons so I wanted to share three filters that I use when trying to discern which modes are edifying to people, glorifying to God, and consistent with the Gospel truth.

1) GOOD NEWS TO ALL MEN (Lk. 2:10):There is very little in this world that is Good News to every single person but this is the bold truth that the the “Heavenly Angels harked” when then proclaimed Christ’s birth. The Gospel we are proclaiming needs to be Good News at a heart and soul level of all who hear it. Any Gospel that comes at the expense of another person or people groups’ humanity and/or dignity is no Gospel at all.

2) RESCUE FREEDOM (Lk 4:18): All men, women, and children are in desperate need to hear, know, and experience the freedom that is offered from God through Christ. The Gospel that we are proclaiming must call out the freedom given in Christ through the contextual lens of whatever physical, social, emotional, and social oppression is present. We can best be “bringers” of His freedom when we’ve been “receivers” of His freedom.

3) PROCLAIM THE GOD’S FAVOR (Lk 4:19): God is not angry, disappointed, or filled with spite when he looks at me, your or us. God’s wrath was met in full with Christ on the cross for all men, women and children. THIS IS THE GOSPEL!! The Gospel that we proclaim must include this reality and it is up to us to know how to best bring this news to all men, women, and children.

Do you similar or different filters in discerning how you communicate the Gospel in your cultural and context?  

What modes or avenues are you using in your context this holiday season to bring the same Gospel that Christ brought 2000 years ago? 

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