The gospel is more than a set of facts ordered together to provide a person with an equation for divine reconciliation. It is true that in Christianity’s core message, salvation is offered. But sometimes that message gets boiled down to a few facts that you must believe in order to avoid an unpleasant afterlife and instead be ushered into paradise.
There have been many times in my life that I’ve treated divine truth that way- as a rubric for spiritual stability or a starting line to a path of religious rightness. But the gospel message is so much more encompassing than a rubric and farther reaching than a mere beginning.
I’ve found it helpful to remember that God revealed himself and his plan of salvation predominantly in narrative, in story-form. And at the center of that revelation wasn’t a set of important principles, but a hero. Unlike a list of facts, a good story compels us to more than mental assent; it beckons us to believe, to act, to change. And a compelling hero tempts us not only to believe that but also to believe in.
And so to hear that God demands obedience is one thing. But to understand that God has invited us into a story in which he takes our lives and transforms them through the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, that doesn’t only transform behavior. It transforms motivation.