This week we finished the first part of a 12 week series on Maturity in Christ at Creekside. The first point was the absolute centrality of the Gospel in the life of a Christ follower. We looked at the fact that first and foremost the Gospel is a message: Christ crucified, buried and resurrected (1 Cor. 15), the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16), a message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) and more, all motivated by the love of God set on us long before we ever heard of such good news (Eph 3:1-10). And it is a message that has ongoing implications for every aspect of our life as Christians: our lives are called to be lived in line with the gospel (Gal 2:11-14), it is to shape our interaction with other Christ followers (Phil 2), it calls us to go from being recipients of reconciliation to be agents of reconciling grace (2 Cor 5:11-21), and to live a life that imitates the love of the Father we have received through the supreme act of love of Christ’s death on a cross (Eph 5:1-3). We dare not treat the Gospel as some sort of ticket that gets us board the “God train” and then put it away as if we’re done with it. The contours and shapes of the Gospel are to increasing be on display in the lives of the believers: lives of grace and truth, mercy and justice, forgiveness and repentance and on and on.
If it’s all so unbelievably good (and it is), then why don’t our lives reflect more of this Gospel in our interactions with each other? In our church alone there are hundreds of people who have responded to the message and taken the step of faith to become a Christian. Why then doesn’t love, graciousness, mercy, truth and grace flow out of us into each other’s loves and right out the doors into the greater Gainesville community? Don’t miss understand, it is there. I see it all the time. But i’m pretty sure it isn’t there in the way it could be.
Yesterday I came across a quote that gets at part of the reason we aren’t more “grace oriented”. It’s from Paul Tripp’s book, “Dangerous Calling”, which is a terrific book written to examine temptations and issues of the heart that people in ministry face. Dr Tripp writes:
“Whether you realize it or not, you are in a unending conversation with yourself, and the things you say to yourself about you are formative of the way you live. You are constantly talking to yourself about your identity, your spirituality, your functionality, your emotionality, your mentality, your personality, your relationships, etc. You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of your own righteousness, power and wisdom, or you preach to yourself the true gospel of deep spiritual need and sufficient grace. You preach to yourself an anti-gospel of aloneness and inability or you preach to yourself the true gospel of the presence, provisions, and power of an ever-present Christ.”
So which Gospel do you preach to yourself?