As a young child growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the favorite summer pastimes that I and my friends engaged in to keep ourselves from becoming bored and getting into mischief, was sitting on the front porch of our homes in the evening and watch the cars drive by. Now, I know that this may sound pretty mundane to most of you, but we loved this because to us it was more like a game, the object of which was to find the car that we would love to have as our own. And, of course, most of our choices were based on things like the style or color of the car. It wasn’t until my father, who by the way worked for the auto maker Chrysler, shared with me that it’s not the looks of an automobile that makes it a “good” vehicle, but it’s what’s under the hood that I began to see things differently. My father put it this way: “Son, the engine is the heart of the car, if there’re problems with the heart, it won’t matter how it looks.
As I ponder on the words my father shared with me so many years ago, I can’t help but apply them to the church. Today we’re impressed with churches based on their size or some other measurable metric, but as my father would say, “it’s what’s under the hood that really counts.” And when it comes to the Christian church, the thing that should drive us and keep us moving in the right direction is the gospel or the “good news” that we have been given to share with the world. It is a message that says that this world or kingdom is not all that there is and that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, the God of heaven has a kingdom that he longs for each of us to be a part of. This is a message that should not only provide hope for us as believers, but should also be shared with people in the world who desperately need to hear it.
And at the heart of this gospel or good news, is the doctrine of the resurrection. Yes, the news of Christ’s death as payment for the penalty for our sins is “good” news, but if there is no resurrection, then what’s so ‘good’ about it. The apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear in his letter to the church at Corinth when he said that if it were not for the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb, our faith and preaching would be in vain and we would forever remain in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:14:14-17). You see, the heart of the gospel is not merely in the death of Christ; it is also in the powerful climax of the resurrection.
Next week, Christians throughout the world will in one way or another pause to celebrate the fact that Jesus is no longer in the tomb, but is risen. And here at Sligo it will be no different. From Wednesday to Sunday, we will have created opportunities for us as a believing community to pause and reflect upon this amazing act in salvation history. So we encourage and challenge you to take part in this special week that has been planned. Invite a friend as well. Let’s not miss this opportunity as the church shows the world what’s really under our hood.