Revisiting Conversations With My Daughter, Part Two

Last week I revisited conversations with my daughter, and how I realized the silliness of cramming the gospel into a single 10-minute conversation. But this is our evangelical mindset: the whole of the gospel is fully explained in John 3:16; or can be sketched onto a napkin, or explained in 4 simple to understand statements.

I’m as guilty as the next guy for not seeing anything wrong with this kind of über reduction, but I’m beginning to grasp the faultiness in this kind of thinking. But more on that later.

Since those initial conversations with my daughter, there have been a couple other conversations that have stayed with me. In these short conversations, she has drawn back the curtain to her heart and what’s going on inside. Her self-awareness and insight amazes me and also shows the need for ongoing conversations.

One time, she again expressed sorrow and regret over how she acts and treats her brothers at times. She does not understand why she continues to be mean or selfish.

She does not understand why she is this way. And she doesn’t like being this way. But what she is beginning to see in herself is her sin nature.

Another time, as we tucked her in one night, she expressed frustration and confusion as to why God was silent. Why hadn’t He ever talked to her? Why couldn’t she hear Him? She is becoming more and more aware of how life in this world is not what it was originally designed to be.

It is so humbling as a father to be involved in this process. To be able to have these conversations with her and to anticipate the conversations to come.

These are real issues, and my daughter is not the only one feeling this tension or confused with God and His world. Many in our pews and outside them are asking the same questions and similar ones.

As we wrestle through answering these questions, a bigger question arises: has a reduction and simplification of the gospel made it harder to effectively answer complex questions? Could this be part of the reason our nation has been labeled post-Christian and the church is seen as irrelevant?

Is our gospel too skinny? To put it another way, could there a hole in our gospel?

What do you think? What is the gospel?

  • Louis

    I think the presentation of the Gospel, in a general sense but certainly not typically for all churches, has been distilled by the tendencies we have towards consumerism in our culture. Because we live in a world where we’re constantly asking what will this do for me, we’ve asked the same question of God’s Word. The Gospel fights against glory through selfishness and instead shows glory through sacrifice. A complete Gospel statement will show our need for Christ, the beauty of Christ’s methodology of saving us, his promises as a result of saving us, and our responsibility for what to do with this knowledge until He returns. It can be stated simply initially, but it’s really the beginning of a lifestyle which requires constant attention to Scripture throughout one’s life.

    • Tim

      Right on, Louis! Well said!

  • robshep

    Yes and no is how I’d answer your question. The part that makes it so small is that we present it in 3 point sermons that are guaranteed to make you better. Christianity is messy and isn’t easily solved in 3 points. The thing I love is that your daughter has you. That’s the missing piece to me. Having people who we can ask the touch questions to. Great post!

    • Tim

      I agree. I think many in the church have a real fear of voicing their tough questions because they’ve seen how others who dared to question the answers were typically treated. So how do we make the church a safe place where people are more likely to open up, and two-way dialogue is vibrant?

  • Stephen Haggerty

    Love it, Tim. Yes, I think we’ve unnecessarily reduced the message of the Gospel in an attempt to make it more accessible. If you’re relationship with Christ can fit on a napkin than you probably haven’t got to know him yet! I tag on what Rob said in that you’re daughter has a great head start in having the ability to have these discussions with you- nice work.

    • Tim

      Thanks, Stephen.