Christians and Culture by Dr. Tim Woodroof
You’re sitting at Starbucks with an old friend. Life has not been kind to her—bad decisions, hurtful betrayals, painful circumstances. She hasn’t known how to live. She hasn’t known who she is. And now she comes to you for answers . . . to put her life back together . . . to start again.
So what would you tell her? Do you know the gospel—the story that saves and sanctifies us? Do you know the story that is “the power of God” to heal broken people and transform wasted lives?
Were I sitting in Starbucks with your friend, I would hold up my left hand, tick off my fingers, and tell this story.
(1) It all starts with God and his purposes. There is a God who stands behind all this, a God of goodness and beauty and astounding grace. He has a purpose for this world and for you. He has a plan to win you to himself.
(2) Because of that plan, he created the heavens and the earth. And he made us in his own image so he could have an intimate relationship with us.
(3) But we spurned relationship with God and chose to trust ourselves, please ourselves, and worship ourselves. And the world has been broken ever since. Our lives limp along, powerless and painful. Our relationships fall apart. We look in the mirror and are ashamed of what we see.
(4) But God did not abandon us, even when we abandoned him. He made a covenant with us, a covenant of love and grace, with promises rooted in God’s purposes for us. It guarantees that God will never stop pursuing us, never stop loving us, never stop hoping for the best of us—no matter how far we fall or run.
(5) God formed communities for those who seek him, gatherings of like-minded people, nurturing places where others help us learn about God, live in more godly ways, and love as God has loved us.
(6) When the time was right, God’s purposes and promises met in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was God in the flesh who lived his life trusting God, pleasing God, and worshiping God rather than himself. And the result was a life of such shining perfection, of such beauty and power, people have marveled over him for the past 2,000 years.
(7) To further God’s purposes, Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. God’s enemies rejoiced, thinking they had hurt God and his plans. But God used the death of his Son to achieve his purposes. He sacrificed his sinless Son to show mercy to sinners. He took the punishment our sins deserved and laid them on Jesus Christ.
(8) And then, he raised Jesus back to life. In doing so, God gave us a hint about his purposes for each of us. When we are willing to die to ourselves like Jesus, God will give us new life like his.
(9) When we trust God, all the benefits of covenant and community, Christ’s cross and resurrection, flow into our lives. When we trust, God unleashes his Holy Spirit within us. God does this, not because we finally do the right thing, but because we trust the right one. It is through faith that we are saved and sanctified. It is a gift of God, given to all who are willing to trust him.
(10) God’s power begins to work in us, to change and transform us. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live and how to die to habits that lead to death. We learn to live like Jesus. Not overnight. Not all at once. But surely and completely in the end.
(11) One day, Christ will come again. Everything—you and me, this world, good and evil—will be given to God. His purposes will reign supreme. And the God who knew you before the world began will welcome you to live the life he intended all along.
That is the story I would tell your friend. That is the gospel in five minutes—the gospel on one hand. Do you know the story? Has the story changed you? Can you tell it to others?
Dr. Tim Woodroof is a freelance writer and speaker. He and his wife Julie make their home in Nashville, Tennessee.