One of the easiest things to do in church culture is to make simple things unneccesarily difficult. What if forgiveness was as simple as asking? What if fellowship was as simple as gathering? What if evangelism was as simple as telling? What if discipleship was as simple as investing and caring? God’s Son didn’t die on the cross so that the Good News of his redeeming work and resurrection could die the death of a thousand qualifications. Gospel simplicity is still possible and best.
When Paul said that he decided to know nothing except for Christ and him crucified while with those at Corinth, did he mean it? When Christ opened the minds of the disciples to understand the scriptures and interpreted to them from the law and prophets all the things concerning himself, was that a perfect interpretation? Focusing on Christ and him crucified is not a sign of shallowness. It is a sign of depth and simplicity that is sorely needed today. If the apostle and the Son of God had such a focus, then surely we should consider the wisdom of placing Christ as the center of our proclamation and interpretation.
Words and Letters
Failing to see the forest for the trees is more than just an expression when it comes to Christianity. All too often, we fail to see the words for the letters. We fail to see the gospel for the words. Sometimes this is because people take themselves more seriously than they take Scripture, and sometimes it’s because it’s easier to wield scripture like a sword instead of as a honeycomb for the soul. The truth is, it is both. However, if we miss the overarching point of it all, then the words and letters lose the full impact of their real power.
It’s somewhat rare to hear sermons that are gospel-focused and Christ-centered. Either the gospel is a footnote to the pastor’s sociological or historical commentary on a passage, or it is bypassed altogether as milk when the saints supposedly need meat. The good news of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners is not made more explicit by cleverness or intellectual rigor. Imagine the galaxy as the vast wisdom of God, a telescope as the word of God through which we can see the truth in all its beauty clearly, and Christ as the lens that brings everything into focus.
Countless issues are worthy of biblical consideration and gospel application, but allowing them to take precedence over the simple proclamation of the gospel itself is a major mistake. Gospel simplicity means keeping the main thing the main thing as well as avoiding the pitfall of underestimating the sheer power of presenting the good news of Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected for sinners. Gospel simplicity is a necessity.