Friday, April 2, 2010

"Hot Gospel"

Today being Good Friday, I went to the 11 AM service at Willingdon Church [1] with a number of my close friends. The service was profoundly moving from start to finish. Among the elements of the service, there were two that riveted my attention. The first was a compelling video narrative, tracing the events of the gospel narrative covering last week of Christ, from Palm Sunday to the crucifixion. The second was a short sermon given by Pastor John Neufeld, about the importance of Good Friday, particularly in light of the reality and horror of human sin in the sight of God. It was while speaking on this that he used an analogy that gave me great cause for reflection.

Referring to the increasing appetite in North America for Mexican food, particularly salsa, he cited a few articles and examples talking about how processed "mexican" food products being sold had been heavily watered down or modified in terms of their spice content. The reason given for this was that North Americans did not have a preference for the level of culinary spice that was the norm in Mexico. Pastor John then delivered a riveting closure to the analogy, talking about how many people preferred a "watered down" version of the gospel, because the intensity of the truth within its message was too uncomfortable to handle. The fact, he said was that this "hot gospel" was the only acceptable one in the sight of God, and " is the only thing that can save you."

As I'm writing this, it's been four hours since that service got over; the words of his sermon are still pounding in my head. This is what the reality of the human condition reduces to - though the burning of the "hot gospel" is intense in its revelation of the depravity of our sin, it is our only hope for any rescue from ourselves, as we look in the "mirror" of God's Word and realise the horror of who we are without Him. As I write this, I am reminded of the words of a beautiful song by a Christian artist that attracted my attention many years ago, which are so apt to the event that I remember today. These are some of the lyrics of "Baptise Me" [2], by Jaci Velazquez:

In the desert of my shame
I have found myself to blame
Now I thirst for innocence
And your blood is there to quench
Pour your life into my soul
Let the cleansing waters flow
Make me as white as snow

Hear me as I pray
Wash my sins away
Drown me in Your grace
Baptize me
As my lips confess
Fill this emptiness
With your holiness
Baptize me

Touch my eyes and give me sight
Father bathe me in Your light
At your feet I'll always be
Until the day Your face I see
Let Your words consume my heart
Lead me to the deepest part
And the healing starts

Some time ago, the SFU Skeptics Club had designed and erected a banner that currently hangs opposite the W. A. C Bennet Library on the SFU Burnaby campus. It read: "There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life!" For the longest time, I had thought of what a banner with a Christian counterperspective might look like. Something witty, dry, yet thought-provoking, perhaps? Many posibilities had run through my mind. Today, however, I came to the conclusion that ultimately, the most fitting and thought-provoking reply that I could put on a banner to any challenge by skeptic, atheist and agnostic alike is nothing other than the word of God in His "Hot Gospel". It is not watered down in any way, and is delivered in the most honest and authentic manner possible:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil."
(John 3:16-20, ESV)

This Good Friday, it is my desire before my Lord and Saviour that I live my life before all the world, in a manner worthy of a testimony to the power of His "Hot Gospel."

- The Wisdom Seeker