Shalom, Sin, and Good News

Posted on Posted in Dave Everson

"If my gospel is mute in the face of the worst stuff that ever happened in our land, then maybe it's not so good."
—Lisa Sharon Harper

Last week I listened to an interview on the Relevant Podcast with Lisa Sharon Harper, Chief Church Engagement Officer for Sojourners (bio). She discussed her new book, The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong Can Be Made Right (book details). I highly recommend you give it a listen (Harper's interview starts at about 61:15).

In the first half of the conversation, Harper summarizes the outcome of more than a decade of study and reflection on Genesis. That experience, she says, challenged what she now perceives as a narrow and underwhelming version of the good news of Jesus and stretched it into a broader, better "Very Good Gospel." Suddenly, she says, her Christian faith had something to say about suffering and evil that went beyond, "someday I won't have to deal with this anymore." The Very Good Gospel is also actively restoring and redeeming in the here and now. As followers of Jesus, we are called to take part in that work.

The second part of the interview discusses injustice in general and the Black Lives Matter movement specifically in light of the Very Good Gospel. Harper offers a really helpful, concise analysis of the movement, particularly the ways it intersects with the mission of the Church. Frankly, for me this is the magical part of the interview, because Harper's words have a kind of hopefulness that stands out against the cynicism and despair that dominate the tone of most social discussions these days.

If you're having a hard time understanding what Black Lives Matters is, if and how it fits within a Christian worldview, this conversation could be really helpful. It's thoughtful and perhaps challenging. But the marriage of ideology and hope in Harper's message is such a great reminder that Jesus doesn't ask us to tear things down just so we can stare at the rubble and weep. It's always a prelude to a rebuild.

Perhaps that kind of hopefulness is one of the things you learn when you survive a long, slow crisis of faith.

Image Credit

Colored Triangles: Leo Reynolds; CC BY-NC-SA 2.0