The Whole Gospel, Part 2


I have the privilege of working with Totonac coffee farmers in the east central mountains of Mexico. We work together to bring spiritual, social and economic restoration to a cluster of communities who are struggling to make a living from the beautiful land.

If you and I could drop, by helicopter, into the area of our work, you might think that we landed in Eden. The Necaxa river is a beautiful silver ribbon, unrolled between the shoulder blades of the green Sierra Norte mountains. The steep slopes are dense with lush tropical foliage: bamboo, acacia, banana, cedar, chalahuite and more. In the rainy season, droplets of mist form on their leaves and fall to the ground where they rush together to form rivulets, then streams and then rainbow-crowned waterfalls that compose a beautiful sound track behind songs of great-tailed grackles and golden-crown warblers.

To walk in those mountains in the Spring is to become intoxicated by God’s own perfume. The delicate blossoms of coffee, orange, lime, mango, papaya, and vanilla lace the air with complex, dizzying aromas. Walking the same path later in the year, these blossoms yield endless handfuls of sweet, juicy, delicious fruit that burst with flavor in the mouth and send drizzles of nectar down the chin and onto the red dirt.

And the air is warm and the sun is bright and life blooms everywhere.

I imagine this as the scene the scriptures describe at the beginning of the world. And as idyllic and dreamy as it seems, God would not think it complete or ideal until it included man and woman. And as God’s new companions opened their fresh eyes to their home, this garden, their lips must have spoken in unison with God’s: “It is good. Very good!”

We need to remember that this was the world in which God’s children were meant to dwell. And according to scripture, our main task – our work – was to tend it and to fill it with life. And that too was good. Very good. The gospel, the Good News, actually starts here: God saw all that he had made (including the world, humans and their work), and it was very good. God created us as partners in creation. This was the original design. We were made to care for a world that was meant to be fresh and new as a mountain breeze every moment.

For a fleeting time, Father, Son, Spirit, Woman and Man enjoyed pure, abundant, blossoming life. And when the human part of that family lost the grip and went prodigal, their Creator even created a plan that holds out open arms of promise that invite us back to The Family and its work as selfless artists and builders and healers who are passionate about seeing all return to what we left in the garden. 

This is the beauty of the whole gospel that cannot be forgotten.

Doug Cooper
Executive Director | City Gates Initiative

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