The Gospel story begins in Genesis. In the beginning God made all of creation perfectly (Genesis 1:31) At this point in the story there was no sin, no failure, no thing that was imperfect. Then came The Fall in Genesis chapter 3. Sin entered the world through Adam, Eve and the serpent. Following The Fall death, destruction, disorder and disfunction entered creation at all levels. From broken personal relationships to the dying of stars we see this universal entropy that is the effect of sin run amuck.
The story of the Gospel does not end in Genesis. Jesus enters the story as the second Adam (Romans 5:12-19) and becomes the remedy for The Fall. At the end of the Bible we see that all creation will be redeemed from The Fall. The universe will be restored, redeemed, refurbished and recreated into God's perfect design again (Revelation 21:1-5).
Until the consummation of the Gospel we all feel the effects of The Fall in personal and cosmic ways. Our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationships with one another need mending, they need radical reconciliation.
So, given that this is central to the Gospel, how does it affect how we proclaim the Good News?
Many of our evangelistic strategies involve mountaintop experiences. We often try to reach people with the Gospel at fun camps, rallies, concerts, and other moments in time aimed at engaging positive emotions. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. I still will stop and watch the recordings of old Billy Graham Crusades on TV just to watch the throng of people flooding to the alter when the invitation is given. I get goosebumps and tears watching that even though the recording may be 30 years old. There's nothing wrong with evangelizing on the mountaintop.
But I would bet that more people meet Jesus in the valley than on the mountaintop. Sure, more people at one time may have come forward at a Billy Graham Crusade and I thank God for what he and others like him have done, but I would bet that more people have met Jesus in the valley.
In the valleys of our life the effects of The Fall are most clearly seen. In the nadirs of our existence we get that feeling that life isn't supposed to be like this. When we are in cemeteries and hospitals something in us is reminded that death and sorrow aren't right. It is in the valleys of life that people are most interested in the remedy for the death, destruction, disorder and disfunction in their life.
Christians, we must be willing to meet them in the valley. We have to be there when the entropy of the universe comes crashing in on them. We must be there in the floods, in the diseases, in the divorces, in the incarcerations... we must be there in the valley.
We are at our best and our proclamation of the Gospel is most clear when we rush to be with those in the valley. Christians famously did this during the plague during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 165 A.D. Christians are doing this today all over the world. And we must do this type of evangelism as well.
The Gospel makes all things new. Where there is brokenness, the Gospel brings mending. Where there is destruction, the Gospel brings reconstruction. Where there is disfunction, the Gospel brings unity. We must reach people when they most realize the curse of The Fall and desire Good News. We must meet them in the valley today.