Christianity is an interesting thing.  We gather together in groups, sings songs, clap our hands, read books, handle snakes (haha, at least according to Mark’s gospel), and all other manner of activities groups of people could do.  When we gather together, frequently we listen to someone preach some sort of sermon or lesson about God or being a Christian or proper snake-handling technique.

Often we teach sermons on different books in the bible, and we will go through the whole book, or at least large chunks of it. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that rarely do we Christians spend sermon series on what are called the gospel accounts.  Out of the sixty-six different books in the bible, four are devoted to Jesus; his life, teachings, works and ministry.  We call these four gospels, and we get that from a Greek word that literally translates as “good news”.

When we call ourselves Christians, we necessarily align ourselves with Jesus, The Christ (the early Christians were first called so as a slam, they were derided for running around the Middle East and Asia Minor trying to be like Jesus, so they called them “little Christs”).  However, it seems like we Christians spend little time reading, discussing and learning from Christ’s life as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  A friend recently remarked at how she has attended church her whole twenty-five years and cannot remember a sermon series devoted to the entirety of a gospel book.  Annie and I thought about it, looked back at our own experiences and came to the same conclusion.  Annie even mentioned that she had to take a history class at UCLA to spend time reading and teaching through the whole gospels.

The question that then arises is, “Why?”  Why do Christians neglect the corporate study and teaching of entire gospel accounts? The quick and cheap answer to this question is that to do so is dangerous and scary. The gospel writers weren’t very good at painting a neat, tidy picture of Jesus.  He does and says things that conflict with other things he does and says.  No matter who you are and what you think of Jesus, after reading just one whole Gospel (let alone all four) that preconception will be challenged and broken.

Jesus breaks out of whatever metaphorical box we mentally put him in, consciously or unconsciously.  Jesus presents us with a tangible picture of God, and that God is more than we can understand; any mental box placed around God will eventually be broken.  Jesus, therefore, is more than we can understand; he is mysterious, powerful, wonderful, loving, critical and anything but safe (he hung out with hookers, drunks, lowlifes, sick, lepers, and anyone else his society shunned, for goodness’ sake!)

Anyway, I plan to take our high-school midweek bible study through Mark’s gospel in a couple months when we finish the letter to the Ephesians.  I am continually reading through Mark and I love it; I am daily challenged and encouraged by Jesus’ unpredictability.  The only difficult part about Jesus being more than we know or can handle, is that it makes it a little difficult to teach a room full of high-schoolers what Jesus means and wants from them with any unwavering definition.

Well, here’s to seemingly difficult tasks, and the beauty that comes from trying not to sanitize and Jesus or castrate The Good News of its power.   And The Good News is this, that we were created to live in a certain way; that we exercised our independence and turned away from God’s way; that God broke all the rules by manifesting on earth in Jesus, and providing us a way to turn back to God.

So there lies our challenge.  To intentionally read Jesus’ accounts and live the way he calls us to, loving God with all that we are and have, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.  Hopefully we can see that Good News, and accept the Gospels’ incomprehensibility as Jesus’ beautiful way.

ps- To anyone who Googled Ben Harper and hit this post, I’m sorry and I know I ripped-off a Ben Harper song title for this post title, then proceeded to make a nearly contradictory argument to his but hey, when a title is good, you just gotta go for it.  Also I am sorry for my extended absence, I was very busy and the thing that had to suffer was blog production; but more is to come.

Only In Love,

JD

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