Presenting a Christ-centered gospel
Jeff McSwain of Reality Ministries wrestles with his working theology in the context of sharing the gospel with teens. He argues against a gospel that flows from a theology that sees a separation between God and mankind (viewing God as separate from sinners until they repent); and thus a separation within the Godhead (seeing a Jesus that lovingly touches sinners, but a Father who remains separate until sinners repent).
McSwain notes that God the Father is not separate (alienated) from sinners. He is the loving father in Jesus' parable who is unrestrained in reaching out to love his prodigal son even in the depths of the son's depravity. God (Father, Son and Spirit) is fully reconciled in mind and heart to all of humanity through Jesus. There is thus no separation - alienation on the God-side of the equation. There is only love, including the ongoing work of the Spirit to invite all humanity to know (experience) that love and in experiencing it, be transformed.
And so the gospel invitation that flows from a Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology (understanding of God) is an invitation to change one's thinking about who God is (this is repentance), believe the good news of what God has done for all humanity (this is faith) and take up one's cross and follow Jesus.
Unfortunately, McSwain's understanding of the gospel got him in hot water with his former employer (Young Life). I pray that there will be reconciliation among the parties involved. But I'm reminded that the truth of the gospel (the truth of our humanity redeemed in Jesus) is not always gladly received. But the Spirit continues to reform the body of Christ - taking her back to the foundation of who God actually is, and thus who we actually are in Christ.
Dear Lord: What a blessing to know that your gospel is truly good news for all of us. May we share that good news wherever we go (including our "going" with young people!). Amen.