Mark 1:1 ESV
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Here’s the deal- everything that matters begins with Jesus.
Down the road from me is a strange manger scene. There is a buffalo and a ram with horns surrounding two Native Americans standing under a tree. The mother is holding a baby. It’s all very Christmassy. Slightly confusing. Slightly familiar. Public thought today seems to be portraying an aggregation of faith into one monolithic mess. Purity is no longer a virtue. This story borrows from that story incorporates the other philosophy until suddenly a completely inconsistent but entirely acceptable faith emerges. Coexist. Right?
But beginnings matter.
In the beginning, God created (Ge 1:1). In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God (Jn 1:1). Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe this, Mormons don’t believe this and Muslims don’t believe this. In other words, all religions do not share the same bedrock values. At the foundation of Christianity is this- Jesus is God. From the beginning. And ’til the end. This is the cornerstone of the Christian faith that remains a stumbling block for everyone else.
Without this statement of faith, the wonder of Christmas is removed.
Who cares if a baby was born in a stable? Who cares if a few wise men gave some gifts? Unless that baby is the Word that became Flesh (Jn 1:14). Jesus makes the story matter. Jesus makes your story matter. Without Jesus we are without purpose. We can live and breathe and create but not with wonder. Wonder begins with the gospel.
A few days ago while meditating on our text- I was interrupted by the Holy Spirit. Ab convinced me to take her shopping, which means I drop her off at stores and walk around the parking lot. As I walked around and quoted Mark 1 to myself, I became overwhelmed with how marriage begins with the gospel, how parenting begins with the gospel and even work begins with the gospel.
Everything that matters begins with the gospel.
Few people with kids would suggest anything is more important than their children. But from time to time I find myself parenting according to ideals beginning outside the gospel. One great article and a few convincing statistics and suddenly I’m willing to risk their future on culture’s newest thesis. Their future. Not mine. Think about it. No set of modern parenting modes can increase a child’s IQ. No amount of good nutrition can make them taller or increase eye-hand coordination. None. However, gospel parenting can absolutely influence your child’s eternity (Pr 22:6, Josh 24:15, Ge 18:19). This is the future that matters most.
Sure, I want my kids to do well in school (trust me, the hours spent doing homework is proof). I also want them to be good at the activities they choose (again, I spend a bunch of money on club sports). My wife made their baby food and traveled to the ends of the earth for goat’s milk to establish good eating habits. But, what we really want them to do is serve Jesus. The only way we can make a difference in their future that matters most is to raise them according to the gospel. This is not always convenient. Sometimes it’s even offensive, but my hope is not on what is being promoted today. I’m literally consumed with them serving Jesus. The beginning of parenting is Jesus.
If God formed us in our mother’s womb (Ps 139:13), then the gospel will complete the work He started. This is the mom and dad job that matters most. Gospel parenting.
WORK LIFE IMBALANCE
Marriage and work are just as unyielding. What God created is best sustained by the gospel. We can mix and match His word with our whims and we’ll have some results – just not the results we want most. God knows us better than we know ourselves (Ro 8:27). Trusting Him in that reality is the test of faith.
If getting what we want means compromising what He said, what we want will never give us the joy we seek. Ever.
Probably the greatest test of a woman’s faith is trusting her husband to lead her. Likewise, the greatest test of a man’s faith is loving his wife more than his own life. These tests are not abstractions. They are an obvious metric. Ask yourself how you fulfill any of the above. Hopefully, the answers are abundant.
WHAT MEANETH THIS?
So, if the beginning of the gospel is that Jesus is God, everything that follows must be just as true. Just as transformative. Just as mandatory.
How much do you really believe the story of Christmas? Enough to project its wonder onto everything else that matters?
A weekly blog by G. Shawn Scarborough, Pastor of Livingstone Church