The Gospel in 140 characters or less

May 26, 2010 | Uncategorized | 45 comments

Last week Rachel Held Evans emailed me with a surprising question: What is the Gospel?

I kind of laughed. Well, that’s an easy question, I thought. But then I went to type out an answer, and found that articulating it wasn’t quite as simple as I’d thought it would be. I ended up just going with a six-word answer in an attempt to boil it down to its essential truths. (You can read my answer as well as other bloggers’ answers in Rachel’s post here).

The idea of distilling the Gospel to its most basic message stayed with me, and it occurred to me that I’d love to see what people would come up with if asked to summarize the Gospel on Twitter, i.e. in 140 characters or less. (I patted myself on the back for having such a highly original idea, then did a Google search to see that a lot of other people have already thought of it. So much for thinking I was the first to come up with that one!)

Even though others have done it, I’d like to hear from you. Let’s say you receive the following message on Twitter:


How would you respond, in 140 characters or less? (Those of you who don’t have a Twitter account can use this character counter.) To make it more interesting, let’s assume the following:

  • This person believes in God.
  • This person has never heard of Jesus.
  • This person has never heard of the Bible and would not understand any references to Scripture.

Can’t wait to read your answers!

Thanks to Rachel for the question, and be sure to check out her soon-to-be-released memoir, Evolving in Monkey Town!

45 Comments

  1. Michael King

    http://pilgrimagediary.blogspot.com/

    Hi Jennifer! I tweeted you my answer! This was a really interesting exercise, I think I'll have to blog a fuller response now hehe.

  2. KarenDV

    God is holy. We're not. God loves us anyway and sacrificed his Son to make us holy and restore our relationship — forever to be with him!

    (139 characters. 170 would have been better to add something like "Lots more promises — let's talk!")

  3. Tina

    Good morning Jennifer 🙂

    I don't tweet, but here's the one that I was taught so long ago. It made sense to the 6 year old I was and it still does today:

    John 3:16 God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life

    139 characters including spaces.

    The bible is full of these. 🙂

  4. Janet

    The Gospel is good news – I am loved, saved and can live forever in perfect happiness with God, if I live according to His Will.

    131 characters

  5. KimP

    I was just thinking about this question this weekend! The Good News is that God wins. God will win, God has already won. Good overcomes evil, life overcomes death, and love overcomes sin. And since God has won, the only decision to be made is whether you want to join Him – and bring as many as your friends as possible with you!

    OK that is more than 140 characters, but that was the best I could do. : )

  6. Stephanie Y.

    I don't tweet either, but here's my attempt:

    He came. He taught. He died. He rose from the dead. We’re all forgiven and invited to the party. What are you waiting for?

  7. Brandon Vogt

    I love this attempt at tweeting the Gospel from from Protestant pastor Rob Bell:

    "The gospel is the counterintuitive, joyous, exuberant news that Jesus has brought the unending, limitless, stunning love of God to even us."

    Here would be mine:

    "Creation was full before sin cost paradise. Jesus sacrifices himself to redeem the world. God welcomes us to the wedding: turn and believe."

  8. SteveK

    Jesus fully paid the debt owed to God for our moral crimes against him, so we can have a relationship with God. How do you respond to Jesus?

    140 char

  9. mr_sunshine

    I would spare people the gushy, religious, man-made veneer that you usually get when people publicly state the central message of their religious preference and leave it at:

    "Be a good person – keep an open mind, treat people with respect an dignity, and you can't go wrong."

  10. Anonymous

    I don't need 140. In 58 characters, "God loves us so much that He chose to share our suffering."

    This is what attracted me to the Gospel. I did not come from a Christian background. I was brought up to believe in a God, but not the God of the Gospel. A God who suffers with us is a radical concept.

  11. Duane

    God became a man in order to show how to become more like Him (and to forgive us when we don't).

  12. Sara

    It reveals to us the only path to eternal life, which is through Jesus Christ, the son of God, who died for our sins so that we may live.

  13. Christina

    "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel."

    In our current world, that would probably need some explaining, but that's the core. Jesus ushers in the Kingdom of God.

  14. Robert B. Heath

    To show us his love, God became man, then died to pay for our sins, told us to follow his example, and share this good news with others. 136 characters

  15. Kaitlin

    Hi Jennifer! Long time reader, first time caller (umm commenter)

    I think I would just be really succinct and say:

    Despite what the world says:
    God is love.
    Love is ultimately triumphant.
    Suffering is meaningful.
    You are beloved.
    Use things, love people

  16. cheyinka

    (I think this is only the second time I've commented here, but here goes:)
    "God loves you & wants to make you able to be happy in heaven. He came to earth, died, & then rose again so that death wouldn't be the end."

  17. Ray Hollenbach

    Hi Jennifer:

    I'll play:

    If you woke up tomorrow & heaven had come to earth: what would it look like, what would change? What if heaven has come and we've missed it?

  18. Mindyleigh

    God gave Himself to us as an infant, shared in our sufferings, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and disguised Himself as bread so we can receive Him into our breast. Alleluia!

  19. V

    God's son Jesus came to us- He forgave us & taught what it means to love: to serve others: mainly the poor,widow,orphan,stranger,oppressed

    I had to take out spaces and grammar. But this is what I know and believe.

  20. Peter and Nancy

    Because I owe God a debt I can never pay, Jesus came to earth and paid it for me with his suffering and death. He loves you that much too.

    I think that's 135 . . .
    Nancy

  21. Michelle at #!/usr/bin/mom

    It's good news! God, in human form, has taken the punishment for your every wrongdoing & invites you to eternal life with Him. Please RSVP.

  22. nuntym

    Hi again Jennifer!

    Hmmm… Good question. How about this for an answer?

    "Our Father, who art in Heaven,
    Hallowed be Thy Name,
    Thy Kingdom come,
    Thy Will be done,
    On earth as it is in Heaven.

    Give us this day our daily bread,
    And forgive us our trespasses
    As we forgive those who trespass against us,
    And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil. Amen."

    For you see, the Catholic Church has always taught us that the Lord's Prayer "is truly the summary of the whole gospel." See The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2761 and following:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p4s2a1.htm

    Ad Jesum per Mariam!

  23. Anonymous

    God gave us free will. We fail. He loves us so much that he sent his son to us. By his stripes, we are saved. He's got a place for us in Eternity.

  24. Rachel H. Evans

    Been thinking about this all day and still can't come up with something I'm satisfied with.

    I guess that's one of the reasons why I posted the round-table on the blog – Seems like this should be easy; but it isn't.

    Maybe tomorrow…

  25. Flexo

    Jesus is Christ & Lord who reconciles us to God by forgiveness of sins in His death, so that we might have eternal life in His Resurrection.

    140 characters exactly

    The best place to find succinct summaries of the main message of the Gospel (the Good News) is in Acts, where Peter, Paul, etc. made their initial proclamations.

  26. Christian H

    A man from long ago named Jesus was the son of God, God Himself, and love. He died and resurrected and in so doing saved us from ourselves.

    But have you heard of The Heresy of Paraphrase? It states that paraphrases are invalid, and I think that it's called "Heresy," even if meant in a secular way, is somewhat telling in this context. At the very least such an exercise must be misleading…

  27. Jessica

    The Gospel is the truth. God is a sacrificial and unwavering Love. Allow Him into your heart, and let him make you anew.

    This is so much harder than I thought in 140 characters!

  28. Marie

    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

    Acts 16:31

  29. Dawn

    OK, since I'm an avid twit, I mean tweeter on twitter I have to play. : ) My attempt is:

    The gospel is the good news—the truth to live by—that Jesus, God's only son, came down to earth as a human to share with us as our brother.

  30. Marilyn at Live First, Write Later

    You're right, it's not easy! How's this:

    God shared in human nature, in the Israelite Jesus who died and rose again. Through Jesus we share in God's eternal life.

  31. Bunanns

    The Gospel is the news that there is One who reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear by loving him to the point of death.

    My first attempt — I thought it was not that great but then I saw that it was exactly 140 characters, so I figured the Holy Spirit it at work in it somehow.

  32. LP

    Jesus, a man who was God – and who was without sin – freely gave His life away, out of Love, that the entire world might have eternal life.

  33. Dani

    My twit: God is Love. If you want to know more, read the bible, go to church, pray, love.

  34. NC Sue

    This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but I contend that Jesus' message may be summarized in 4 words:

    Love God.
    Love others.

    Often times we complicate it a bit too much. (Of course it can be argued that I'm WAY oversimplifying…)

  35. SteveG

    God is love, and Jesus is the way to God. Death is conquered by His sacrifice on the cross and resurrection, and Jesus is the way to eternal life.

  36. Maiki

    God became Man in Jesus Christ, His Son; dying He destroyed our death, rising He restored our life. Believe and be Baptized into this life.

  37. Maiki

    I think it is also important to distinguish between what the "good news" is (i.e. the Gospel), and what God requires us to do (Christian teaching). The good news is as Tina said, John3:16 (that is my vote for best answer). What God requires of us is Micah 6:6, or Matthew 22:33.

  38. Jared

    Jesus, God's son, died on a cross in ancient Israel to make up for our sins against a holy, just, but merciful God. Now we can live forever.

    140 characters

  39. Daniel

    We're alive, but dead. Jesus came so we can be dead, but alive. His Spirit shows why we're dead AND shows us how to live. Why? So God can spend the rest of eternity the fullness of life.

    140 characters – exactly.

  40. Daniel

    God wants and will redeem all men through Jesus Christ.

  41. Sarah

    Fallen creation, Christs reconciles creation thru his death/resurrection, we place our faith in this act.

    105 characters.

  42. Laura Rupers

    By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph. 2:8-9

    140 Exactly (:

    Even if I had any characters left, I wouldn't need to add anything to that!

  43. sara

    After thinking about the question since this post went up I have come up with zip. 140 characters? I just think it's too complex for that.

    I think that at least a minimal understanding of the Law is necessary for the Gospel to make sense. The Gospel is that Christ suffered and died to pay the penalty that we owe for our sin. He rose to conquer death and to reconcile us to God – to begin to set to rights this fallen world. Now, for that to make any sense, there has to be an understanding that this IS a fallen world and that we are sinful, which perhaps is innately understood by some people, but definitely not all.

  44. Geoffrey Miller

    God is life, and all that God touches becomes filled with life; God touched death, transforming it into a gateway to life everlasting.

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