The Draw of Perpetual Innovation

I have been reading Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton.  In this book, Dr. Horton warns of the problem of instantly looking for the next new thing.  Let me share a few extended quotes from this book as a an encouragement to us who live ordinary lives.

Perpetual shock is the new normal in the church as well. It seems like Jesus needs rebranding every couple of decades. Commonly, the rhetoric of radical in our churches actually mirrors our culture, even when —no, especially when —it invokes the lingo of “countercultural,” “subversive,” “alternative,” “extreme,” and so forth. The likes of Athanasius, Augustine, Bernard, Luther, and Calvin sought to reform the church. But for centuries now radical Protestants Protestants have been trying to reboot, reinvent, start over, and reconstitute the real church of the true saints over against the ordinary churches. For that level of enthusiasm, of course, you have to be in a state of perpetual innovation, like Apple and Black Spot Sneaker.

But the Gospel is not a new innovation.  It is something that God first promised back in the Garden of Eden, after our first parents sinned.  It was fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus Christ, because God loved us.  The Gospel is the announcement of what Jesus has done for us.  It is not about what we do.

The power of our activism, campaigns, movements, and strategies cannot forgive sins or raise the dead. “The gospel . . . is the power of God for salvation,” and, with Paul, we have no reason to be ashamed of it (Rom 1: 16). That is why phrases like “living the gospel,” “being the gospel,” and “being partners with Jesus in his redemption of the world” are dangerous distortions of the biblical message of good news. The gospel is not about what we have done or are called to do, but the announcement of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor 4: 5).

The answer is not what’s new and innovative.  The answer is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of God’s grace to His people.  So try something old–the Gospel.

Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ,


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