Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Eugene Cho on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost.  A full list of contributors can be found here.  Eugene’s local newspaper is The Seattle Times.  Here is Eugene Cho on the Good News.

What is the Gospel?
Let me first suggest a one sentence answer and then use the rest of my allotted words by explaining my answer:

The Living God wants to eat with us.

Let me explain.  The Triune God of the cosmos not only created the world and humanity but desires fellowship, communion, and friendship.  And when sin entered the world and humanity to wreak  havoc and chaos, God intervened again – with the redemptive mission of restoring Shalom – all that which God intended for us.

God intervenes in a stunning way that is simply irrational and fully incomprehensible.  He gives us of Himself through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  While we can certainly make the case of the Gospel being encapsulated by the well known verses of John 3:16 and Jesus dying on the cross for humanity, consider this: God dwelled amongst us.  This is the Gospel.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14 / The Message)

God became one of us, dwelled with us, and even ate with us.

Throughout Jesus’ journey, he was eating with men, women, and children.  He ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, sinners, Romans, Gentiles, and even religious folks – like you and me.

When you understand the significant cultural and spiritual meaning behind “eating together,” I completely understand why the religious folk couldn’t “get” Jesus. Eating together = lifelong friendship. Jesus was declaring that he wanted to be in covenantal friendship with everyone. This is the Gospel.

Consider Jesus’ words in John 21 with Peter and the other disciples after the drama of the crucifixion, betrayal, and chaos. Jesus simply invites them to eat with him and even serves them breakfast:

Jesus said, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.  Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead. (John 21:12-14)

The Living God wants to be in eternal communion and friendship with us. He creates the Gospel, pursues it, and ultimately sends his Son to restore, redeem and reconcile that Relationship – as the perfect Sacrifice. This is the Gospel.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me. (Revelations 3:20)

But there is one more aspect of The Gospel that must be shared but often neglected or ignored.  If we truly believe that God wants to eat with us, we have to ask the question,

What if others are not welcome to the Table? What if there are systems that prevent them from coming to the Table? What if we don’t welcome them?  What about racism, sexism, poverty, and other issues of injustice?

Consider these statistics as a small microcosm of what I am speaking about:

  • African-Americans represent only 12% of the US population and yet 44% of all prisoners in the US are black.
  • In over 15 states, if a black man and a white man are arrested on drug charges, the black man is up to 57 times more likely to go to prison than the white man.
  • Women still make approximately 78 cents to a man’s dollar – for the same work.
  • Some sources cite that 1 out of every 3 American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
  • Tonight, there will be over a million homeless children in the United States.
  • One in six of the world’s population is hungry, almost a billion people.
  • About 17,000-20,000 children die every day of hunger-related causes – one every five seconds.
  • There are approximately 27 million slaves in our world today.

What is the Gospel?

God wants to eat with us.  But the Gospel doesn’t end there.  God loves the whole world and the gospel is for the whole world. God wants us to love mercy, seek justice, and walk humbly.

Eugene Cho, a second-generation Korean-American, is the founder and lead pastor of Quest Church in Seattle and the executive director of Q Cafe, an innovative non-profit neighborhood café and music venue. He and his wife are also the visioneers of a new organization to fight global poverty called, One Day’s Wages. You can stalk him at his blog or follow him on Twitter.

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