Something is wrong here... very very wrong.

Our world is broken, shattered in a place that feels unfixable. We don't always notice or realize this truth, but our world's wounds feel incurable.

When something unspeakable happens with precious children — like Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut — all our illusions are shattered once again. We have to look at our world as it is — deeply broken and in need of something beyond us. Oh sure, some will buy a gun to protect themselves and their families while others will try to have all guns banned (depending on our politics and convictions). Yet both of those solutions are merely Band-Aids placed on gaping wounds. We all know this in that deep place of our souls where brutal honesty resides.

Something is wrong here... very very wrong.

Yes, our world is often a very good place to live, but there is a brokenness we cannot escape when we hear of the brutality in Syria; the suicide bombings in Iraq; the rapes, murders and abuse in our own community; and the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Liberia... and the list go on and on.

Something is wrong here... very very wrong.

We feel our planet lurch and weep and moan with every earthquake, volcanic eruption, outbreak of tornadoes, and the devastation a hurricane or tsunami brings. We feel our world shudder in fear as we anticipate the newest pandemic or the threat of weapons of mass destruction using biological warfare or nuclear warheads. We feel the people of our world wince with broken hearts as we look for ways to battle cancer or feel the loss of someone who succumbs to the abuse they've heaped on themselves through bad diets, poor exercise, and unhealthy addictions.

Something is wrong here... very very wrong.

The Bible says our world is "subjected to frustration" because it is "in bondage to decay" and that "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Romans 8:19-22).

We sense this is true. We cry out with our creation in agony when we see the searing pain in the face of a parent whose child has been murdered, or a spouse who has lost a soulmate to an incurable disease, or a family who has lost everything in a storm, fire, or flood — including family members, pets, home, and pictures that preserve the memories of what is now lost and gone. Yes, we share our creation's cry. We feel our world's ache and we moan over what is broken.

And what is this cry? What is this desperate moan of our world and its human inhabitants?

We want a fixer. We need help. We yearn for a redeemer. We long for Savior. We cry out with an agonizing moan, "God, if you are there, please help us, for we cannot fix what is most broken about us and our world!"

This is the moan, the cry, you hear in thousands upon thousands of stories told over the centuries — stories of sacrificial love, unjust suffering, and doing right to bless others no matter the cost. Every culture has these stories. Movies, books, theatrical productions, and even musicals tell these stories.

These redemption stories move us. They reach past our barriers, they overwhelm the dams we've put in place to stop our emotions and hold back our tears. They speak to something in our soul and move us in ways that are beyond our abilities to describe. Go see something like Les Miserables and you know what I mean. These stories touch something primal inside us — something placed in our DNA by our Creator to prepare us for the ultimate redemption story.

These stories acknowledge the brokenness of our world, our relationships, and our systems. Yet somehow, through some power beyond normal human strength, a hero arises, faces all the brokenness, and bears intense pain in order to ransom others out of darkness.

These redemption stories are really Christ stories told in anticipation of Jesus or as echoes to his coming. These stories prepare our hearts for the one true hope our broken world has to be healed at its core.

These are Christ stories. Stories that speak about the one who made it all and then came to redeem it back from the brokenness caused by our rebellion.

These are Christ stories, because everything ultimately flows back to this one reality: Jesus is the CORE truth of everything good and right and full of hope.

Listen to how the Bible talks about Jesus as this CORE truth:

All God's promises find their "yes" in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:18-20).

He is the ultimate Message of God, and is God, and nothing that has been made in our universe came to be without his fingerprints all over it (John 1:1-3).

While God has spoken in many ways in the past, his fullest and most complete message came to us when God sent his Son, who was himself God with us (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The Son existed before all created things. The Son created everything and everything holds together in him. Without him, there is nothing (Colossians 1:15-17).

The Son, the Message of God, came to us — the very people and things he created — and we rejected him. Yet the ones of us who didn't reject him, the ones who believe in him, we were given power to become God's children (John 1:10-14).

What can reach into our brokenness and bring light to our darkness?
That's why the Father sent the Son — because he loves us and wants to save us from the brokenness of our world and give us new life (John 3:16-17).

But this salvation, this bringing us back to God, was costly: it cost Jesus his life in a blood sacrifice in a real human body, to save us from the mess of our world (Colossians 1:19-22).

God loved us so much that he took our sin and placed it upon his Son so that we could be made clean and begin life as a new person in a new world (2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

We are on a journey to rediscover What is Core* about our Christian faith and what it means for us as we seek to live as followers of Jesus. But at the center of What is Core* is Jesus — who he is, what he has done, and what it means for us.

As we focus on What is Core*, we are reminded that nothing — no religion, no beauty, no created power, no philosophy, no song, no person, not even the Scriptures themselves — can speak to the ache in our soul and the cry of our hearts... nothing and no one, except Jesus.

Jesus is our CORE. And at the center of this CORE, there is something we must believe or everything else fades into emptiness:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures... (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Each phrase sizzles with importance. Each thought shimmers with the profound simplicity of God's grace expressed for us in the willing self-sacrifice of the Son and his victory over what holds us in fear, sorrow, and brokenness (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58).

This is What is Core*! This is of first importance. So the questions — whether for each of us as individuals or for all of us together as God's family — are really quite simple:

  • Do I believe this?
  • Do I let this change who I am?
  • Do I let this guide me to what is important in life, in fellowship, in worship, and in doctrine?

Because ultimately, if we cannot answer, "Yes!" to all three, then we have really said, "No!" to what can reach into our brokenness and bring light to our darkness.

* When referring to What is Core, I am referring to two particular passages in the New Testament that claim to give us the most important truths in Scripture.

The claims of these two passages remind us that some truth is more important because it is more central, it more core, to the truth and will of God. These truths help inform, order, and make important other truths in Scripture and we are saying these passages are What is Core!