The Gospel of Width
I’ve been learning recently how wide we believe the gospel to be. It’s this immense message, that God wants to stretch to the corners of the earth. Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make disciples of every tribe, tongue, nation, and ethnicity. Basically, everybody.
And so for thousands of years, Christians have understood that the gospel is to spread wide and reach many. We’ve sent missionaries, church planters, social justice workers, and youth group house building teams. We’ve prayed, fasted, given, and prayed some more for good measure.
We want the Gospel to reach wide. So wide, that a large portion of our messages are urging each other to go make disciples. Go, tell people about Jesus!
But, does it ever seem like we get people to join our numbers just so they can turn around and tell people about Jesus so they can join our numbers so they can go tell people about Jesus? You get my point. It seems, on some level, that there’s an underemphasis on the healing power of the Gospel.
A Deeper Impact
Jesus claimed that His burdens are easy and light. He claimed to give rest to the weary and heavy-laden. How many times does serving Him seem to be more burdensome? Are we more stressed about preaching and serving? Giving? Being faithful?
Or are we joyfully in love with God, resonating every breathe with a posture of worship? Are we surrendering the deepest parts of our soul to Jesus and allowing Him to be Lord? Those things we hold onto. Those dispositions we’ve fostered. The anger, emotional instability, and emotional infancy. Are we genuinely loving? Or are we critical and judgmental? Do we cover that by claiming to be discerning, and watching after our brothers?
How many of us, though committed to Jesus and the spreading of His message, are not letting His way be done in our own hearts?
The gospel is more than wide-reaching, it’s deeply penetrating. God wants to purify every blemish on our souls. Every bit of deceit, unrighteous anger, lust, grief, and emotional immaturity. He wants to go the dark corners of our soul that we aren’t even honest about with ourselves. And He wants to bring healing there. He wants to bring the power of the Spirit that Resurrected Jesus there, in a place where it will bring you to life. This is the gospel we’re also spreading.
It’s one of healing, and becoming more complete in Christ. He’s making us fully human again. We may preach that, but do we live it?
Do we allow Jesus into those dark places? Are we open and honest about ourselves? Do we bring the brokenness that festers in the dark corners of our hearts into the light? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to bring us there?
I’ve found that often, I don’t. Often, I keep trying to just press forward through the hurt. Keep on ‘working for the kingdom’.
“You shouldn’t feel that way, you’re a Christian.”
“Christians shouldn’t feel depressed!”
“Get over it! God has more important things for you to do.”
So often I find myself trying to ignore that internal hurt and pain, and ignore the past and its effect on me. I’ll make myself really busy, and do a lot for the church and for God, and fill my time with good things.
But I’ve forgotten that to follow Jesus isn’t just conversion, then a life spent proselytizing so others convert. It’s taking up your cross daily. It’s dying to yourself daily. It’s surrendering all of our brokenness and junk to Jesus, and pressing into the Holy Spirit so that we can be healed. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Our past hurts, and our present can hurt. The uncertainties of the future can hurt. Broken relationships can hurt. Circumstances can hurt. See, our issues go so much deeper than we often give them credit for. As people, we’re this physiological, emotional, spiritual iceberg, and so often we’re trying to diagnose our issues by looking at what peaks above the surface.
Well there’s a whole lot beneath that surface too, and God is interested in going there. He wants to go deep-sea diving into your heart, and explore every crevice, every crack, and every wound. He wants to bring you peace, clarity, forgiveness, healing, and wholesomeness in all of those. What’s beneath your iceberg? What are you hiding, or running from? What are you holding onto? Maybe you don’t even know what’s running amuck in the depths of your heart. Maybe it’s time you checked.
I think it’s time we all got to the heart of the matter, our hearts.
I think it’s time we stopped guarding every word that came out of our mouths, and filtering everything through “Christianiese” so we’d be accepted by the congregation. I think it’s time we got open and honest with one another.
What if we discussed those things about ourselves that scare us? Those hurts that cut so deep?
In the book of Ephesians, Paul begins by talking about the essence of our faith and the reality of who Jesus is and what He means. Essentially, through Christ we have been made alive, though once dead in sin. In Christ’s death and resurrection, we’ve been made a part of the family of God, of humanity 2.0, as some theologians like to say. We’re being restored and renewed in His image, the image of Christ. And we’re called to walk in that newfound communion with God, in the newfound peace with God, and with the Holy Spirit that resides in us.
In chapter 4, He says this: “Therefore I … urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” 
Do you see it? One of the greatest gifts God has given us, as adopted sons and daughter into the family of God, is each other. We’re nothing without community.
It is not good for man to be alone 
Our sanctification, the process that makes us more like Jesus, is intrinsically connected to our involvement in the Body of Christ. And God takes that seriously. We’re supposed to humbly and peaceably bear each other’s burdens and hardships, and work together, sharpening one another and encouraging one another.
When’s the last time our bible studies got that deep? When did we open up, and become totally vulnerable to what’s really going on underneath? Because without that, how can we ever expect to let the Grace and Mercy of God heal us? If we aren’t honest about our sin, if we’re still in hiding, how can we expect the issues and symptoms to go away?
And so, just as Paul urged the Church in Ephesus, I urge you to go and walk in a way that’s worthy of what God has called you to in Christ. I urge to you humbly and gently bear the burdens of each other in patience, digging into the deep pains and groans of each other’s soul. I urge you to live in the midst of each other’s brokenness, and be unified in the Spirit of God.
May you and I be open and vulnerable about our sins and our pains, and the deep swells of our hearts.
May you and I go before God with all of those things beneath the surface, arm in arm with our brothers and sisters, pressing on to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
And may you and I find peace in the presence of a Holy God, who groans for us and wishes to see us fully conformed to the image of His Son.