Many years ago, William H. Willimon wrote a small book entitled The Gospel for the Person Who Has Everything. I was reminded of this book as I listened to various people who have reduced their church attendance or to the people that have been invited to come to church.
It is true that some people do not come to church because they have to work on Sundays, especially those who have part-time jobs. However, I found out by experience that it is not just those who have part-time jobs who are absent, but those who have lots of money to travel and to do all sorts of things over the weekend. I remember specifically one person telling me that having money and the opportunities to do so many things over the weekend has drastically reduced her family’s attendance to God’s house.
I find that the proverbial C/E Christian (Christmas and Easter Christian) has almost vanished. When I call these people, they tell me of all those wonderful things that they plan to do. At Christmas there are so many skiing resorts that offer special trips and they cannot resist. Around Easter there are so many international possibilities for singles, couples and families.
Yet, the person who has everything still has the same problems as the person who has very little or nothing. They struggle with questions about the purpose of life, they are concerned about tomorrow, they have broken relationships with friends, spouses and children, and they have sicknesses and death. The difference between the person that has everything and the person that has very little is that the person that has everything can numb their pain with all sorts of things that work for a little while. The father who has a relational problem with the son can send their child on an expensive trip or a counselor, but the relationship has not been healed yet.
In the fourth century, St. Augustine coined the phrase, “Thou hast made us for Thyself and we are restless, until we find our rest in Thee.”
Is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ the Good News for both the rich and the poor? All of us have sinned. The prince and the pauper, the plebe and the patrician, the haves and the have-nots all are sinners. God the Father sends His Son into this world for sinners. The Holy Week calls us to reflect on the fact that it is for all the sinners that Jesus Christ goes to the cross. He suffers and dies for all sinners. When Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of the sinners, He prayed for all the sinners. In one song that our choir sang recently the composer wrote that “without the cross there is no pardon.” A sinner needs to receive the pardon of God.
Secondly, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest miracle of universal history because it changes the direction of the entire world. Jesus Christ is declared to be the Lord of the universe by his victory over sin, Satan and death. It also means that Jesus Christ wants to be the Lord of everyone’s life.
The third part of the Gospel is that all the living and the dead will appear one day before Jesus Christ to give an account about what they have done with the Gospel. It is what we have done with the Gospel that will determine our eternity. The judgment question will be what we have done in the light of the Great News? If God so loved the world that He gave His Son for us, have we responded by loving Him and living our lives for Him?