One of the dramatic paradoxes upon entering the city of Spokane and its nearby valley, surrounded by the foothills of the Rockies, is that this recreational wonderland is also a dark place spiritually and sociologically. Driving east on I-90 from Sunset Hill, your attention is immediately captured by the beautiful view of the Lilac City. However, the closer you come to downtown, the more apparent systemic problems become, that lie just beneath the surface in Spokane: rampant drug use, homelessness, prostitution, hopelessness, and little evidence of the gospel being clung to by churches which call the city home.
All of us struggle with idols that call for our attention and devotion. Unsuspectingly, so many have settled for the worship of lesser gods; the false idols of recreation, individualism, self-reliance, and even self-determined morality. Yet, the most prevalent and overlooked idol being worshiped in our region is the idol of escapism. We will do so many different things to take our minds and hearts away from the stresses and cares of this world.
Tens of thousands of cars that drive past on I-90 and at the intersection of 2nd Ave. & Division each day filled with people who seem to be more concerned about how long they are inconvenienced in traffic or while being held up at the stop light in such a neighborhood as ours. Scores of transients, homeless, and disconnected youth roam aimlessly from one social service to another; many of them seeking anything in order to escape their present reality.
But the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to shatter all false realities—and bring life where there is death. Where sinful man desires to escape, the Good News invades in order to rescue. Where darkness seems to overcome, the Good News exposes the darkness and brings sin into the light. The gospel of Jesus Christ destroys false idols and is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Rom. 1:16).
The Good News of Jesus Christ is not foreign to the Inland Northwest; there has existed a church on this corner for over 100 years and we share in the joy and privilege of being called by God to continue in the gospel work that over the decades has slowly and somewhat unknowingly faded into the surrounding culture. But there is another gospel that remains popular and comfortable throughout our region and it is the gospel of social action. This gospel has stalled many churches in the city. It has driven many of the churches to their knees, bending them to its will of social change, and a theology of liberation and not repentance. This gospel is at best only superficial, incomplete, and at worst, not redemptive.
But the Good News of the work of redemption is at the heart of the story of God, whereby in Jesus Christ, our redemption has been paid and secured. Redemption Spokane is located in the heart of the Inland Northwest, and where we believe and trust that the message of the ongoing redemptive work of Jesus Christ will go forth to impact our city and our region. It is the continuing work of redemption in our lives that enables us to make disciples of Jesus, raise them up in Jesus, and send them forth for Jesus.