—Peter (Acts 3:19-21)
Peter delivers one of the first sermons centered on the gospel after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. I'm blessed to live in a time and a world where this message has been going forth for two thousand years, where Jesus has long been been active in gathering His Church and advancing His Kingdom. Of course, I'd be foolish to deny the brokenness and sin of the past two millennia, but it would be equally foolish to deny God's work in this time.
Even so, there's something beautiful about hearing this message afresh, free of the baggage of history—something in the raw and simple answer to the pressing question, "What does this all mean?" The astounded crowd had to know. And though my cultural and internal landscapes may be cluttered, that's what I need to know, too. And I believe the Holy Spirit can give that fresh, clear vision to see the answer, to see His glory.
It doesn't take first-century romanticism for me to hear the truth in Peter's message—I don't have to ignore the past two thousand years. Neither is this some kind of superstitious myth bought into by a simpler people in a simpler time. In the early days of 2006, I still need to know that there's a point to cleaning up my act other than a seemingly endless and ultimately futile attempt at self-improvement—that there's a God to turn to who has made a way to receive me and save me from the obviously sinking ship. I need refreshing and restoration, and in whatever measure I don't experience those things today, I need an ironclad promise that they are indeed on the way. And I need to know that there is hope for the world to be changed. That's good news. That's the gospel.