Last Saturday, Jenn and I took the boys to the dollar theater to see the claymation film Pirates: Band of Misfits. A half-hour in, I was in so much pain (could have been the British humor) that I left the theater and walked around the parking lot, vomiting a few times. I tried to tough it out, but the pain got worse, so I went back in and asked Jenn to take me to the hospital. Dignity seems to be an optional thing. I was writhing in the car and karate kicking the air until the medics could get some pain medicine into me. My gallbladder had declared war. I was admitted to the hospital, and Sunday morning the surgeons went in and Mr. Gall is gone.
Being wheeled on the stretcher to my room, exposed and vulnerable, I noticed my attendant was from the Middle East. His name is Mohammed and he is from Cairo. I told him I love his country, love Muslims, love Jesus, and want him to go to heaven. We had a nice little conversation about the gospel and Jesus, the only sin bearer. I dug him no well, I gave him no water, I taught him no English—he in fact was serving me kindly and gently—but I was able to tell him about Jesus. Who knows, maybe for the first time.
A YWAM friend of mine in Egypt some years ago decided to take the gospel literally by not taking anything. He made an exception for a toothbrush, which he stuck in his pocket. Then he began to walk through the desert, from village to village. Some villages were distant, and he would stumble into them hot, thirsty, dirty, and fatigued. The Muslims would take him in, feed him, host him, give him a white robe, wash his clothes, and care for him. He had nothing to give them, nothing to offer back—except everything. He sat with them in their living rooms and shared with them the gospel—what God has done in Christ.
I am not the gospel. You are not the gospel. The gospel is what God has done, is doing, and will do in Christ. We (in the West) increasingly believe in the gospel-plus. Embarrassed of the exclusive claims of Christ, some of our action (not all) is because we want to self-adorn the gospel. Truth is, God is true and the gospel stands whether or not I am false or laid out on a stretcher. The gall of the gospel is that it is not about me, it’s not about what I do—the gospel is all about what God has done in Christ.
Do not read this as a call to license, to falsehood, or to removal from the world. We attack evil wherever we find it, we minister in word, sign, and deed to body, soul, and spirit—but let’s remember that we and what we do are not the gospel. Let’s proclaim the good news about what God has done in Christ. Let’s do it from weakness—Gospel Gall. It really is not about us or what we can give. God gave His only Son. What can we possibly add to that?