The Century asked 23 authors to boil Christian proclamation down to just a few words. What is the essence of the essence of Christianity?
What's the Gospel in Seven Words?
In the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ we see that God is so for us and with us that we can no longer be defined according to death, a religion-based worthiness system or even the categories of late-stage capitalism.
Among Gospel epitomes I especially love the Jesus prayer, the Agnus Dei and "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive"--the good news as I first heard it from Paul (Ephesians 4:8) and Christ's Jubilee proclamation (Luke 4:18).
To be sure, the second-to-last word, which can be very powerful, can be given to something else.
This always seemed like hard moral advice that very few of us were really able to follow. But in recent times its meaning seems clearer.
By grace we're created in the image of God. When we corrupt our lives with sin, the grace of God in Jesus Christ forgives us and makes us fully alive again.
Christ "has broken down the dividing wall. . . . that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it."
A common tendency among believers is to think of Jesus Christ in the past tense. He's the guy we study in the Bible that some taxidermist must have mounted on a wall.
The gospel is the good news that Christ's death and resurrection--mediated through scripture, tradition, and the sacraments of the church--offers new life for all who embrace it.
Birth is a messy, painful affair, fraught with risk and danger. Yet Jesus was born.