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.

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.


10 Responses to Eugene Cho on The Good News

  1. Sonja says:

    Eugene,
    This was a very enriched article to me.
    How you ‘breathed’ the desire of God towards all human beings in excistence.
    I loved the part ‘eating together= lifelong friendship’ and how ‘Jesus was declaring that He wanted to be in covenantal friendship with every one, how the living God wants to be in eternal communion and friendship with us’, to draw out the importance of having ‘fellowship, communion and friendship’ together and how ‘God dwelled among us’ ..very practical line:’God wants us to love mercy,seek justice and walk humbly’
    Thank u for highlighting those scriptures from john and revelations.
    You even showed the other shocking side which are quite a confronting statistics to consider.How do you not loose hope by knowing this?

  2. Richard says:

    Great article Eugene. I love the acknowledgement and pursuit of both aspects of the whole Gospel. Reminds me of the recent book title by Richard Stearns of World Vision – The Hole in Our Gospel.

  3. JR Woodward says:

    Eugene,

    I love thinking about the good news in relationship to “the table” and the richness of what that means. For it is at the table we tend to be ourselves, share ourselves, and be family. To know God has invited us into his triune relationship and calls us to extend the table to those who because of the world system have been minimized, oppressed and abused is indeed good news. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. eugene cho says:

    @sonja: thanks for reading.

    honestly, there are times it feels hopeless. and i feel hopeless.

    but understanding the first portion of what i shared really does give me great encouragement. God is alive and at work through the Holy Spirit and that gives me great hope. The Gospel is still in motion and I get to participate in that.

    couple other things encourage me:
    1. i’m not alone. there are so many others that are praying, working, serving, fighting, laboring, advocating, etc. very encouraging.
    2. the statistics are dark but what’s not well documented are changed lives and situations.

  5. Dustin James says:

    Eugene, those are some daunting statistics you shared. I leave your writing, not with a comfortable feeling that the gospel is for my private enjoyment. I leave your writing remembering that the gospel of Christ is to make rights of the wrong in the world. We have an opportunity to open the table. I should take time to figure out how to use my privileged status of “white male” to the benefit of others. Perhaps “working the system” for the sake of others. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  6. eugene cho says:

    @dustin: thanks for the generosity and peace in your comment.

    i really hope no one walks away w/ this sense that i’m indirectly bashing ‘white males.’ not at all.

    it’s amazing that my young kids look at the world and they know that “something’s just not right.”

    that revelation is hugely important for me. God intended shalom and if we acknowledge that it’s a broken and fallen world, we can pursue both God and all that God intended.

    it’s a lifelong pursuit.

    the most practical thing i can share is: Listen to the Stories.

    these statistics can be self-defeating in many ways and i am reticent to share them w/o the context of stories of real people. get to know the stories of people around you.

  7. Tony Stiff says:

    Eugene I really appreciated your post and how you connected the gospel to table fellowship as an social statement of intimate relationship. One that is meant to be practiced with all the world (couldn’t help thinking about “The rich man & Lazarus” in Luke 16.19-31).

    I recently read another blog post related to yours. It was called “The sacramentality of food.” Here’s the link;
    http://sacradoctrina.blogspot.com/2009/05/sacramentality-of-food.html#links

    I really love the way you think. Thanks. Tony

  8. Sonja says:

    Eugene,
    Thanks for admitting the burden can be heavy on one man’s shoulder though its great to know that ‘we are not alone’ like you pointed to and that the gospel is still in motion where ‘çhanged lives’ are happening…
    It’s funny when i sit with all kind of strangers around the table it often can stay quiet for a long time…but if i sit around the table with friends it still can be quiet for a while,but somehow there seems always a subject to talk about. As for myself i love the fact of eating together and have light conversations or not any,but i really like to walk in the nature with a few people where fellowship and deep conversations can natural happen.

  9. Dustin James says:

    Eugene, I appreciate the advice. I’ll put on my listening ears! Thanks.

  10. eugene cho says:

    @JR: thanks again for giving me the privilege of participating in this series.

    peace to you and your readers (which includes me).

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