The 8.5 x 11 Gospel
“A bit of green mixed into the soft blue sky. Not too much, just enough that the eye is able to be teased by its depth,” the painter thinks to himself.
He glances over his canvas at the majesty of the mountain range before him. His eyes dart left to right in small bursts, passionately diagnosing the mountain’s character. Each switchback, sharp drop and robust peak spoke to the artist of which the mountain was. This view…was beautiful.
The painter would complete his work. Sell the painting, give it as a gift or perhaps donate it to a museum. That painting would be viewed and appreciated by many. Observers would say aloud:
- “Wow! That’s beautiful. What splendor.”
- “I’d love to go there some day.”
- “Can you imagine how long this must have taken him to paint this?”
- “When I’m sad or depressed, this always makes me feel better.”
- “A unique and subjective interpretation of the same thing. How wonderful!”
Dangers of a one-dimensional Gospel
That human response is one of the many reasons I love film, photography and visual art. It’s also one of the reasons I love the Gospel. Beauty and divine beauty working in the hearts of God’s creation.
There are, however, times that I lean toward those experiences rather than the truth those two beauties hold.
For example, when I see the Gospel at work through people and only appreciating that aspect of it, I can lose sight of what the Gospel is as it stands alone.
The Gospel is amazing as it is active in people’s lives. But it’s amazing even before that.
The Gospel is not 8.5″ x 11″
The Gospel reflects the Creator of all things. It’s purifying! It’s soul redeeming! It’s beyond definitive form or dimensions! It’s vast and timeless! It cuts into sin! It is miraculous and terrifying! It’s the good news, and it’s healing! The Gospel isn’t just subjective, its objective too.
The painter sees the mountain as a single side, of the single angle, of the single point in time. An observation obscured by the limitations he must place upon himself in order to capture any of the mountain’s beauty.
The mountain is massive and covers miles of height and width. It doesn’t fit into an 8.5″ x 11″ flat parchment. Yet we can be distracted by only what it does for us or only what it does for others. Instead of the actual scope of its true splendor, we focus on what we want to see. Paul dealt with this particular subject when writing to the Galatians.
Paul’s view of the Gospel
Paul shares his heartbreak over the Galatians abandoning the Gospel for anything other than what is truth-divine. Paul starts with the Gospel, then pursues people:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-8).
See Paul’s amazement at their actions! See his view of the Gospel! Paul was a man who cared more for people than I may ever grasp, and he speaks to them not about what he’s seen the Gospel do in their lives, but speaks about how holy the Gospel is. He starts by telling them, “Are you out of your mind!? You want to leave grace? You want to leave Jesus Christ!?”
He tells them of how the Gospel is not formed by men or even angels. If either of them tell you otherwise, tell them to go to the bad place!
The Gospel conviction
Do I do that? Am I completely dumbfounded when I hear of the opposition to the Gospel? The flesh is at odds with the Spirit, causing my knee-jerk reaction to consider such opposition as “normal.”
When considering the majesty of Jesus Christ’s Gospel, such a holy vastness cannot be obtained without the Gospel itself. I am not capable of seeing the mountain from every angle all at once. Therefore, how can I truly see its beauty? I am not capable of valuing the Gospel any more than what the Lord sees fit of which to bless me. Only a view larger and wider than 8.5″ x 11” is possible through Christ.
Brothers and sisters, I urge you, in the name of our Christ, be astonished! The only way to properly value the Gospel of salvation is through Him who made it. Pray the Lord blesses you and pray also that the eyes of your heart open even wider still. There is no limitation except that which the Lord has placed upon himself! There is no experience that which the Spirit may not exhale into existence! There is no other way to the beauty that we were made for than Jesus Christ! Be astonished!