Is the Gospel really all that good? I ask myself this question all the time. Sadly more often then not I come up with insufficient answers: answers that don't meet my deep-felt needs and heart's cry for satisfaction, answers that simply paint it as a pretty picture - something that happened that was beautiful but not something that is happening and brings with it all I need.
I haven't written in a few days, because I've been that I'm too much of a sinner to write anything about the Gospel: that I'm a hypocrite, a fraud, and that God has somehow ruled me out of his plan, at least until I put some distance between me and my sin.
There's a root that has dug itself deep into the soil of my soul: that the Gospel is only so good. It's not really good, like say good beyond comprehension! And it's certainly not good enough for the sinner who is sinful beyond comprehension - a sinner like me.
But a new theme has been influencing me recently: that the Gospel is all about hope for sinners. Real hope. Hope fulfilled and met in the real work and workings of God. Not only does the Gospel not disappoint, but our deepest fantasies of hope are shallow when compared with it's realities. Let me say it another way: what we dare not even hope for, because it would be absolutely absurd, even scandalous, comes to us in the reality of the Gospel.
I've internalized the Gospel as only containing so much hope, or so much grace. It's only "so much," for if God is faced with my sin, surely he says, "to heck with that" (just more literally). I confess that I believe in a small.
But the real God heaped all of our willful, premeditated death blows on his Son. How dare I believe that this only engenders so much hope for me? I offend the reality of grace that is God's with this kind of thinking.
Somehow we all think that God can only take so much, when he actually in real time and in real history took on the his own full wrath. How can I really say that my sin rules me out from his grace? It really goes against what is real, really. It's an offense to the truth of God's work and working.
Why do I say "working" in the present tense? Is it because I think the cross wasn't enough? Probably at times. But the truth is that the God that accomplished our freedom on the cross is continuing to pursue our freedom in this world, in the middle of our messy and fear riddled lives.
What does God want from us in return? Nothing. But he does want something to happen in our hearts. He wants us to hope. He wants us to stretch our imaginations as we groan and mourn our fallen state. He wants us to hope that there is a God who not only meets our deepest needs for forgiveness, security, intimacy, and life but far, far exceeds our deepest imaginings of hope for these needs. That's the Good News. And it's in that sort of thinking that we can exclaim with the Psalmist that "our cup runs over," simply because it's not some fancy picture, but a "real and steadfast anchor for our souls."
God's wrath was infinite so that his grace for us could be infinite. Are we bold enough Christians to believe in this sort of hope? I hope so...