Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Reclaiming the (Whole) Gospel

The Gospel according to Luke has always been a book that I have traditionally paid less attention to. The Gospel according to Matthew has always been where I tend to read about Jesus' life, mostly because of the Sermon on the Mount…Luke’s account of miracles, healings, etc. really hadn’t moved me all that much…until recently.

Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, made an intriguing statement that has stayed with me for a long time. We as Christians are constantly asking each other, “How is your spiritual life?” While this is commonplace in Evangelical Christianity, it is a question and concept rarely, if ever, found in the Canon (look up how many times the word "spiritual" shows up in the Bible). Bell goes on to state that if you or I lived in the 1st century and walked up to Jesus and asked Him, “How His spiritual life was”, we would likely get a confused look back. This is because in the Hebrew mind and worldview, there is no separation between physical and spiritual. There is no compartmentalizing. There is flesh/Spirit, but those passages are dealing with a whole different topic. So Jesus would likely respond, “Well, what do you mean by “spiritual”? We would reply, “You know…your devotions…prayer life…church…etc.” But the problem with that line of thought is that Scripture views life as a cohesive, non-compartmental effort. Your “non-spiritual” life, what we sometimes call work, rest, play, TV watching, working out, eating, vacationing, the way you drive, what you spend your money on, etc. are in fact very spiritual endeavors. The whole life is spiritual. That is why Scripture commands us, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it unto the Lord.” (Col. 3)

Back to the Gospel according to Luke. With this framework that, in fact, everything is spiritual, we can begin to appreciate the beauty of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is healing. Jesus is reaching out to the marginalized. He is spending time with children. He is attending to the WHOLE person. And when one reads Luke’s account, it becomes quickly apparent that the whole book hinges on Luke 4:18-19. The whole person as it ought to be, the whole being, the whole world, is indeed this idea of the “Kingdom of God.” Jesus, therefore, sums His whole life and presence as this:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because He has anointed me
To proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
And recovery of sight for the blind,
To set the oppressed free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

All of this was fulfilled in Jesus, and His ushering in of the Kingdom. With these verses in mind as you read the rest of Luke, you begin to see that Jesus is not only fulfilling these verses spiritually (figuratively), but physically (literally). He is literally meeting the felt needs of those He encounters, and the brokenness of this world. Go ahead and try it…read Luke with these verses in mind…you will likely find, as I did, that all of what Jesus does points back to these verses.

We need to reclaim the “Kingdom of God” as our thrust in mission. To attend to one’s soul without care for the body (person) is neglecting what Jesus fulfilled, and now has called us to do. To only attend to one’s body without care for the soul is equally as unproductive and useless. It is the WHOLE Gospel we must seek and preach to the world. Because in fact, everything is spiritual.

1 comment:

Roger Fankhauser said...

Great post!

Luke makes a similar point on Acts... he doesn't tell the disciples to go witness... he says "you will be my witnesses". Application is we are witnesses, the question si, are we poistive or, well, not so postive in the witness of our lives!

My own personal heresy is that I don't like the word "missions" (which, by the way, shows up only once in the NASB (as a singular) and the word missionary never shows up.). To often. "missions" evokes the image of "those people over there"... I prefer witness - either over there or at home! It's the whole person; our witness is our whole life.

So, bottom line, AMEN BROTHER!!!!