How 2020 is Preaching the Gospel

“2020 is going to be infamous for centuries to come. People are going to use it in sentences like, “My week started great and then it went all 2020 on me.”

Our world appears to be falling apart on multiple levels. And it just keeps going. But maybe that’s a good thing.

I feel like 2020 is exposing humanity’s need of the gospel like never before. We are broken. The world is broken. We cannot fix this alone no matter how hard we try. We need a Savior.”

@christylynnewood

I originally wrote this on my Instagram a few weeks ago. I knew that it would eventually become a blog post. I am increasingly convinced that this year — that appears like it came from hell — actually came from a loving God who is tenderly calling His children home.

2020 is preaching us the gospel.

This year has wrecked me. Exposed me (and not just to COVID). And made me question what I believe. Anyone else feel like this? I think it’s a gift.

Because we can’t be found until we realize that we are lost. We can’t be saved until we believe we are sinking. When life is good it’s easy to get lost in our comfortable, busy, distractible lives. But strip us down to nothing…leave us naked and alone…and suddenly we see that all the pretty baubles are just cheap plastic. We were made for more than this broken world.

The disconnect we feel — the sense that something isn’t right — that’s the Holy Spirit whispering the truth to our heart. We were created by an incredible Living Presence for relationship with Him in a perfect world.

But it’s all broken now. 2020 has made that abundantly clear.

There are worldviews that teach the idea that people are basically good and it’s just their environments that cause them to do bad things. People with this mindset are passionate about fixing the brokenness in our world through social justice. The goal is to liberate oppressed people so that they can become good.

It sounds nice, but Scripture is pretty clear that it takes more than a clean, healthy, and prosperous environment to make broken people good.

"For all have sinned 
and fall short of the glory of God" 
Romans 3:23 (Net Bible).

2020 has put our sin on display. Selfishness, pride, love of power, lies, hoarding: it’s everywhere, among every walk of life. There aren’t any good people, just broken ones. Sure, we all have the potential for goodness because we were created in the image of a very good God. But that innate goodness has also been corrupted by sin. On our own we are hopelessly lost.

The brokenness caused by sin extends into nature itself and so we have natural disasters and disease. The world really is falling apart.

"For we know 
that the whole creation groans 
and suffers together..." 
Romans 8:22 (Net Bible).

If we cannot fix this mess by ourselves — the mess that is 2020 — then what do we do? We turn to the only One who saves. To the One who loves broken, messed up people. To the One who is in the business of restoration. Jesus Christ.

Contrary to the teachings of religious Christianity, God isn’t looking for good people. He doesn’t need us to fix anything or get it all together. We just come broken to the foot of the cross. The cross where a perfect God lovingly took the punishment for the sins of a screwed-up world.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us, 
in while we were still sinners, 
Christ died for us" 
Romans 5:8 (Net Bible).

This core truth of Christianity is offensive on many levels. God requires punishment for sins? People deserve death? Death was necessary for salvation? That’s all so violent. It’s not nice.

No, it’s not.

But in His love God took all that offense on Himself, all the shame, and all the punishment. And He offers humanity love, forgiveness, and restoration in return. How is it possible that God would do everything for us and require nothing from us? How can He give salvation as a free gift to anyone who will accept it? Because He is God and giving scandalous grace is what He does.

I originally wrote this post to get my thoughts together for a video I recorded for Facebook. The blog is much less dramatic and more put together than the video (where three neighbors are mowing their lawns, bugs are biting me, and a hammock attacks me twice). But if you’d like to watch the video you can find it here.

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A Virus and a Savior

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Many of us used to think that the modern human being was advanced, intelligent, and sufficient. We had impressive technology, evolved thinking, and a vast array of resources. Any problem that anyone threw at us would be solvable. But a tiny little virus destroyed all of those beliefs in a matter of days.

Rather than being sufficient, we have discovered that we are helpless with no cure or proven treatment. Instead of evolved intelligence, our smartest scientists struggle to explain the hows and whys. There are more questions than answers. Despite all of our technology and resources, we are left facing a very real fear of death.

It is a scary time, filled with uncertainty and disruption. But it is a gift. Because we have to realize that we are lost before we can be found!

We elevated our advanced intelligence, but now we are left helpless. We declared humanity to be “basically good,” but rampant selfishness has been on display all around us. It’s hard to deny that humanity’s goodness has been corrupted. We decided we were sufficient not needing the crutch of religion, and yet we find ourselves terrified of death.

We need a Savior.

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Do you think it is a coincidence that our fight with this virus overlapped with Easter? Hardly. The Real God knows exactly what will make us stop and think, and consider and turn. He has been after His people since He created Adam and Eve. We were made by God for a relationship with God. And since the beginning, despite the fact that people always run away, God has done everything necessary to make that relationship possible.

The Real God became a man and lived on this world with us for three decades. Jesus blew the religious leaders’ minds by refusing to follow their rules because it has always been about hearts and not actions. He chose the rejects, loved the broken, and forgave the sinners. And then at just the right time, Jesus allowed corrupt people to torture and kill Him thus becoming the Ultimate Sacrifice for the sins of the world.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)

This precious truth is at the core of any version of Historical Christianity. God Himself died to forgive our sins, was buried, and rose again, and those who put their faith in Him will be restored to eternal life.

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son” John 3:14-18.

We were helpless, but God Himself stepped in to be our Helper. He did not leave us alone, but came to live among us so that we would know who He was!

We were corrupted, but God took our sin upon Himself and offers us His righteousness in exchange if we will trust in Him.

We feared death, but God offered us eternal life through a Savior, Jesus Christ.

It’s a crazy story. Crazy and unique. Every other religion includes human effort and sacrifice in an attempt to appease the god or gods. No other religion has a God who became a man, took the punishment on Himself, and offers free forgiveness and life to anyone who believes in Him. 

It’s an insane story that has transformed lives for the last two thousand years. It’s transformed mine. Not just the story, but the Person behind the story. Because Jesus is alive and I am foolish enough to believe that I’ve encountered Him personally. I’ve met Jesus. I’ve experienced the forgiveness and life that He offers, and I won’t ever be the same. He’s waiting to meet you too.

Happy Easter!!

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