I’ve always liked acoustic music. Growing in the late 80s and early 90s, I’ve always had an affinity for “hair bands” of that time, Bon Jovi, Telsa, and bands like that. And yes, the first Christian band I ever liked, pictured to your left, Stryper. But what I loved is when they did their songs in acoustic style. I loved the loud and the flashy, but I loved, and still love when music is stripped down to it’s most basic, and you hear the heart of the song without all the other things.
Now, I love a good loud song. But I love it even more acoustically. I was thinking about that concept when I read today’s reading from Romans, along with Lent. What Lent does, as we observe our disciplines, is that it can strip away so many of the other things that can cloud our eyes to the heart of what the Gospel is really about. Today’s reading is the Gospel, acoustic. You hear the heart of what Gospel is truly about.
Listen to what it says Romans 1: 16-17:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.
This what the Gospel is all about, it is a gift of faith. Lent in so many ways shows us our weakness. Our frailty. It begins with us being marked with the ashes, as a way to show our human weakness, as a way to show our repentance. We literally start the season being marked by our weakness.
And our fasting and our prayer, as I’ve said before, these are not about self-improvement, but they are about showing that we cannot do it without the power of God. It strips away our ability to think that we can stand on our own, showing us that we can only stand by God’s grace.
It shows us that we are not as strong as we think we are.
And that is a beautiful thing. To find that you are imperfect and weak, that is a beautiful thing. Because then we find that God’s grace is enough. God’s grace is all that we need. God’s grace is life.
Today’s reading is that Gospel truth, acoustically. Stripped down. The righteous will live by faith. Not by works. Not by their own efforts. Faith. That’s it. That’st the truth of the Gospel.
We are saved by grace, through faith. Not by our works.
Today, when you find yourself lacking. When you think you can’t do it. When you feel undone with yourself, remember this truth of the Gospel that Lent teaches us.
We cannot do it. We are imperfect. We do fail.
And through faith, God saves us anyway.
That’s the Gospel.