Q & R: What is the Gospel?

Here’s the Q:

I’m a distant UK friend who has been much encouraged by your words over the last couple of years – thank you. Recently I’ve been examining my own faith (of about 18 years now), thinking about what it is I believe, what I think being a disciple of Jesus means. I’ve been amazed at how easy it has been to drift along and fall into the familiar grooves of this well trod path.
Only when I was challenged by a friend that stopped believing and pointed out a lot of the problems with faith, did I really look at what I was doing. By then, after many years of not thinking hard enough I found I couldn’t see the wood for trees (hope you know that saying). Even the most basic questions seem unfathomable – like, ‘What is the good news’. What is the good news that Jesus came to tell us?
I know it’s such a basic question that it may seem crazy to ask, but I’d really appreciate the shortest of answers from your perspective.

R: This simple question is so important and powerful. In many ways, it has been the focus of my recent books, especially A New Kind of Christianity, Everything Must Change, and the Secret Message of Jesus. Here’s how I’d say it in a sentence (after the jump):

The kingdom of God is at hand.

The kingdom of God – God’s reconciling community, God’s new way of living, God’s dream for creation, God’s mission in this world, God’s healing of all creation, God’s will being done on earth as in heaven, Creation 2.0
At hand – within reach, available to everyone, truly here and at work, present, inviting our participation, calling us to rethink everything and reorient our lives
This is the good news Jesus proclaimed both before (Mark 1:14) and after (Acts 1:3) the resurrection. It’s also the good news Paul proclaimed (Acts 28:23, 31). It’s the one I hope more and more of us rediscover, embody, celebrate, and proclaim as well.