One chilly evening,Bunchy decided to take a walk into the woods…mucky,dark…”ouch!” he screams writhing in pain…the ruthless thorns potruding from very beautiful plants…the winding rough roads and the meanders… “Whats’ the way back to my starting point or to the exit? He wonders scratching his head…Look at that ugly animal rearing its’ head!”…(takes to his heels!)…looks back…(pant…pant)…his breathe is so loud he can hear the sound of his heartbeat in his ears…His heart literally burst out of his chest…that was close…he keeps walking this time more vigilant and faster than before…to where?… no clue.
Hungry,thirsty but determined Bunchy drugs his feet as he keeps moving forward.From a distance he sees this huge mountain,so huge…He was convinced beyond shadow of doubt that he was lost…lost for good…He sat under a tree hopeless and helpless…”I am doomed there is nothing I can do but wait patiently for my inevitable death,” Bunchy thought to himself while lazily tossing a rock up an down.
“Hey!..What are you doing here?!…Your family is worried sick,they have been looking for you since yester night!” shouts a stranger.Bunchy blinks,closes his eyes and blinks again then looks at the stranger in horror. “Wh..wh..who are you and how did..did you find me?” stammers Bunchy. “My name is Arell…(moving up and down)Arell Bright,I live around here and every morning I set out to hunt and admire what nature has in store,” he replied.”I thought am all alone here Arell,the woods are crazy…I saw this huuuge tree(gesturing) never seen it before,leave alone that,look at my feet(pointing his feet) they are all sore and wounded because of the ruthless thorns I encountered around here and whoa!The animal I saw almost ate me alive,I never knew I could run that fast…and…
“Hey,you haven’t even told me your name and you are already overfeeding me with too much Information!What’s up with you?!” Arell interrupts looking agitated. “(sigh) Am so sorry,I guess I am just excited to realize that am not alone…well,my name is Bunchy Ciman,” He replied softly… “I decided to take a stroll on Sunday evening…to relax and explore the woods nearby.” Arell listened intently but at the same time his mind was far far away.He could relate the confusion Bunchy was going through because he was once there. (Moment of silence…gives Bunchy sweet wild fruit he picked).As Bunchy continues to enjoy his fruit,Arell opens up to him and says, “You know… I was once like you(stares into space).I came into these woods out of curiosity infact I was skeptical at the time but look at me now am so much at peace and I call this place my home.I heard that the name given to this place is Arwed Woods because once you are here then you can’t help but have good judgement.” Bunchy looks around him his hands spread out breathing in and out but at the same time listening to what Arell is saying.
“I saw you coming Bunchy but at the time I didn’t want to scare you.You see that mountain?” Arell asks pointing at the huge mountain. “Ah haaaa…I can clearly see it,” Bunchy responds. “That mountain appears very huge but whenever you keep drawing closer and closer to it you will realise it is nothing but an illusion especially when you are completely convinced that you are not alone.” Bunchy excitedly holds Arell by the hand and runs toward the mountain and to his surprise it was an illusion.They kept walking as they plucked a fruit here and another there…The sun was setting and it was getting darker and darker by the hour.
“Lets’ set up camp here B…It’s not very safe out there.” “…but I have to go home Arell,I can’t stay here any longer,my family is worried about me,that’s what you told me right?…Why are you slowing down?” Bunchy says stumping his feet on the ground with tears in his eyes. “I am slowing down because I have your best interest at heart Bunchy,this is now your new home buddy”…”You would have died of hunger and thirst but look at you,you have seen the kind of provision these woods have,all you have to do is tap into it,” Arell, looking calm and collected,not bothered at all by the panick evidently voiced by Bunchy continued and said, “Out there is destruction waiting for you,out there is helplessness,pain and heartache,there is desolation and disillusion,animals bite and kill and you will have absolutely nowhere to run.” Bunchy crawling towards Arell,looks at him in disbelief and says, “…what about home?Is my family really safe?” “You are the one to go get them out of there and bring them here…bring them to this new home…I am not trying to say that the woods is an equivalent of a perfect life,all I am trying to say is,yes,you will encounter thorns and wild animals and of course hills and valleys but the beauty of life here in the woods is that you are never alone but out there you are all alone…do you see the contrast?(Arell looks at Bunchy as he taps his shoulder)…Do not give up hope when you face all these obstacles rather rejoice because there is hope.”…At this point Bunchy was dumbstruck but at the same time there was a peace he never experienced before…so much peace…heavenly peace. “Go get your family too.” Arell told Bunchy as he waved goodbye and slowly disappeared out of his sight.
“Please don’t go…Arell!Arell come back!” Bunchy shouted at the top of his voice…Bunchy wakes like he is hooked to the mains.He looks around him in shock…He is still under a tree on that hot Sunday afternoon,farmished,he sits up and gets on his feet,vividly remembering the encounter he had in that dream within the few minutes he took a nap.”A…Arell…Arwed Woods,what a dream,I guess I made the right decision today at church,I will definitely stay in ‘the woods’ thanks to my friend Arell…Am gonna get my family to join me.” Arell whispered to himself as he hoped and skipped back home.
Bunchy and The Arwed woods is a ‘fictional’ story I created a few hours ago to relay the message I am writting about today.The names used in the story are fictional and do not represent real people.Bunchy is a character who represents you and me,immediately after giving his life to Christ,he sets out on a journey to know what this Christianity and the gospel is all about.Shock on him,he realizes its not a walk in the park.There are hurdles to overcome.The Woods represent the Christian walk…hills and valleys,doubts and fears are a part of it but we are never alone and this is where Arell comes in.Arell represents the relentless presence of God.He said He will never leave nor forsake us.Christ said He will send a helper.Just when Bunchy had given up to fate,Arell showed up right on time and helped Him view Christianity and the Gospel in a totally different light.
The gospel is at the centre of Christianity.The big queston is What is the gospel?…Is the gospel the yells and screams?Is it the sanctimonious and pious look the ‘elders of the church’ wear? Or is it the Amens,Halleluyahs and Praise God it shall be well kind of talk?Maybe the gospel is living right and avoiding what is evil…Correcting those on the wrong…What really is the gospel?…The Woods in the above story representing Christianity presents a myriad of views when it comes to the Gospel.It is Mucky and Dark and the Holy Spirit our helper is the only one who will enable us discern what the Gospel really is especially in this New Age.
John 3:16,17 paints a vivid picture of what the gospel really is…“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.“
The Gospel is salvation gifted to us by The Saviour Christ.Lets’ now break it down still in light of scripture.We have the bigger picture of what the gospel is about but how can this be broken down?
In light of a message I recently extracted from my archives,the preacher painted a very clear picture of what it is in light of Colossians 1:3-8, “3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.“
The gospel is therefore:
- A message of hope-Through the gospel of Christ there is hope for the hopeless.A message that does not give hope to the hopeless is therefore NOT THE GOSPEL.Hope for eternity/the life to come is the blueprint of the gospel.
- The true Message-We can base our lives on the gospel.Our lives can be patterned around it.
- Bears fruit-Those who go reach out to the lost more often than not experience Christ through those they reach out to and many give their lives as a result of the undiluted message of the gospel,please note that only the raw undiluted gospel results to authentic christianity.The gospel also bears fruit in various aspects of our lives as well.
- The message of grace-The gospel is able to boldly declare that hey,yes you have a sinful past,so many skeletons in the closet but there is no condemnation as long as you are in Christ.Guess what?The old has gone and the new has come.
With Colossians 1:3-8 in mind,then one can be able to discern what the gospel really is.Its’ more than just the ‘Praise the Lords’ and Halleluyah shoutings we see and hear.The undiluted gospel bears fruit,is a message of grace and not manipulation and condemnation,it is a message of hope and not doom and the true message.
“You never, never, never outgrow your need for this gospel. You don’t begin the Christian life with this and then leave it behind and get stronger with something else. God strengthens us with the gospel to the day we die.” –John Piper
To the day we die as John Piper states,God strengthens us with the gospel.
There are different views about the gospel(the Arwed woods) and some end up getting confused and giving up like Bunchy did,but we have a helper who is able to help us discern as well as strengthen us through this journey of faith just like Arell did for Bunchy and we are encouraged to spread this message to all the world because to the end of time He is with us.
Demistyfying what the Gospel is can take a whole year and many many more scriptures that show the undiluted message of the gospel,but for this write-up,allow me to stick to the four pointers derived from the book of Colossians 1:3-8,inspired by Pastor Mark Ambundo of Mamlaka Hill Chapel.
I like what John Piper writes in an article on Desiring God,he says, “The greatest good of the gospel is not forgiveness, justification, or eternal life — as good as these are. The highest, fullest, deepest, sweetest good of the gospel is God himself, enjoyed by his redeemed people. The gospel is the good news that God bought for us the everlasting enjoyment of God.”
In our lost awful estate God always has a way to find us…He has a way to pull us back and call us His Children.What a Father,What a Friend!
I end with beautiful lyrics of an amazing song(shared below) by Abel Chungu called Fathers’ Child.Feel free to sing along and internalise the greatest good of what the gospel of Christ really is.Enjoy!
The mystery, revealed, the love and sacrifice. Not of my own, but of the Son. He came to me, in peace, and held me in His arms And said, “Today, I found true love.” He said, “Today, I found true love.” So it has been, since then, I’ve been my Fathers child. When I received, His Son in me. Down at his feet, is not where I am found to be. (But on a seat, right by His side) x2 I have tasted Grace, So sweet I can’t let go. Once an awful mess, Now am pure… What can separate, Me from my Fathers arms. (I will always be my Fathers Child) x2 So let us come, to Him, no matter who we are. The price is paid, the path is cleared. Don’t be ashamed, His love, has washed away our sins. (His made us new, all by His own) x2 And it’s not yet revealed, what we, shall be in times to come. But what can be, more glorious? Than to be with, Our God, forever in His arms, (And to be called, my Fathers Child) x2 I have found the love that never ends, (Wherever I go, hoo hoo) That faithful love until the end, (No matter how far, hoo hoo) I have found the love that never ends, (No matter how far, hoo hoo) That faithful love until the end, (Wherever I go, hoo hoo) (Until the end…) Wherever I go, no matter how far (until the end…) My heart is never alone, Wherever I am (until the end…) Your love remains the same (until the end…) Your love will always save me… Wherever I go, no matter how far (until the end…) My heart is never alone, Wherever I am (until the end…) Your love remains the same (until the end…) Your love will always save me… (My Daddy You are) x3 to me Oh God (My Daddy You are) x3 to me Oh God (My Daddy You are) x3 to me Oh God (My Daddy) x2 Daddy… Hoo hoo…
I have tasted Grace, So sweet I can’t let go. Once an awful mess, Now am pure… What can separate, Me from my Fathers arms. I will always be my Fathers Child.
Isn’t it beautiful!
Come to Him…He is calling and waiting for your response.
Have a week full of Love and Grace.
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