To those who do not understand the gospel, the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible makes no sense. In it, God tells a faithful, godly, man to marry a faithless prostitute who continues to cheat on him throughout their marriage. As the painful faithlessness continues, God continually instructs Hosea to pursue and forgive his wayward bride. It is a pretty strange story if you think of it. And yet, it is a powerful illustration of what God has done for His Bride, the Church. Yes, the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the Church---we are the prostitute in this story. We rebelled against God. God pursued and redeemed us while we were faithless. And we continue to sin against Him in this life…we have tasted His grace and mercy, we (I) still rebel against His Holy ways in lots of ways, and yet He has paid the price of justice for my sins—past, present, and future. He continually forgives me as I continually struggle with sin, and He continually changes me so that I am gradually being transformed by His grace! That is the gospel—or good news! Though I have been a Christian for over 2 decades, I need this good news still today!!!
The gospel assumes sin. The good news is that God pursues us in our sin and rescues us from our sin. The Church is a mess. We are a mess. And yet, we are a beloved mess—beloved by the God of the Universe who paid such a costly price to save us!As Christians, we are called to live out the gospel. We are called to live in light of the good news that our God so sacrificially and lovingly stooped down to meet us in our sin against Him and pursued and rescued us—He forgave us and covered our sins. I see two big ways that the Bible calls Christians to live out the gospel:
1) Walking in the light—in other words, we are called to be humble, honest, and real. We are called to confess that we sin. We are called to confess our sin to one another. We (Christians as individuals and also collectively as the Church) are not to walk around hiding the fact that we sin (often in big ways...anyone need only open a newspaper to see this!) or that we are weak and in need of a Savior. If we do not live like this, we are hypocritical, self-righteous, deluded pharisees (Jesus actually called them white-washed tombs!)! Again, the gospel assumes our sin. We allow the good news to shine when we admit that still, despite our sin and weakness, God has done and continues to do a good work in us and through us and despite us.
2) Getting dirty—Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. In His day, you can imagine the type of filth that was on the feet of people who walked around on dirt roads in open shoes in the heat without the benefits of modern sanitation and plumbing. Jesus stooped down and got dirty. He met these disciples in their filth and He lovingly washed them clean. Jesus meets us in our sin and shame. He meets us in the pain of our own sin and weakness and in the pain of the sin that has been done against us. Scandalously, He even washed the feet of the one whom He knew would betray Him—Judas, a close friend until that time, one in whom He invested and loved and who would sell Jesus to His enemies for a cheap 30 pieces of silver. Wow. And then Jesus tells the disciples to go and do likewise! We are called to get dirty—to meet one another in the messiness of life, to love one another in costly and sacrificial ways, and to even show sincere and scandalous love to those who hurt and betray us! Are we willing to pay the price?? Are we willing to take up our cross?
Oh, Jesus, help us to live like this!! Give us this kind of love that is not natural to us!! Give us this kind of humility that is not natural to us!!! Help us to be honest and real. Give us hearts that are willing to pursue those who are broken and hurting and even those who have sinned against us--depsite the price we often must pay to our pride, our reputation, etc.