I came to follow Jesus as a teenager in the early 1970s. We were all evangelicals then. Some of us actually became "charismaniacs." Anyway, we defined the gospel that needed to be preached to all nation pretty much in line with Billy Graham and others like him. We used the 4 Spiritual Flaws as a guide to help people realize their abject sinfulness before a righteous and indignant God. This was, I suppose, to help them realize their guilt and fall on the mercy of the Court for justification and release.
What if our message was not exactly correct? I want to quote a fairly lengthy portion of Wright's book:
"The power of the gospel lies not in the offer of a new spirituality or religious experience, not in the threat of hellfire (certainly not in the threat of being 'left behind'), which can be removed if only the hearer checks this box, says this prayer, raises a hand, or whatever, but in the powerful announcement that God id God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God's new world has begun. This announcement, stated as a fact about the way the world is rather than as an appeal about the way you might like your life, your emotions, or your bank balance to be, is the foundation of everything else."
The gospel is God wins! Revelation is all about God wins! And, we are participants in God's victory. The Kingdom, or reign, of God is all about...yeah, you guessed it...God wins!
We don't need to pull on people's heart-strings to manipulate some emotional reaction. God wins!
And, I think this is the important part, God is glad. God is not some wrathful curmudgeon just looking for the opportunity to squash humanity. He is a loving, benevolent Person, (but not human), that loves that which has been created through and because of God's great love. Sound redundant? It is! God loved the cosmos, (re. all of creation), and as a result of God's love, Jesus came and lived, died, and was raised from death so that God's love could be realized by all of us. Pretty heady stuff!
Anyway, this is going to lead me to discuss some things I have heard recently from the pulpit of the church that I have been attending.
One question to ponder until then:
Does Jesus stand between humanity and wrath of God?