So, I find myself coming back to two very basic, yet essential questions:
Is the Gospel relevant in our lives?
Do we believe God’s Word to be true?
These are questions that my husband has challenged me with for years. But it has only been recently (within the past year or two) that I have really understood how essential they are as I strive to “reach forward to what lies ahead” so that I might attain the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:13-14). We must constantly ask ourselves these questions, especially as we confront self-complacency, discontentment, and even suffering. If we answer an honest “yes”, then our lives (and churches) should look radically different.
I love what Barbara Hughes has to say about the Gospel in her book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman:
A gospel that primarily focuses on man’s needs or guilt or feelings or wants or ambitions is not God’s Gospel. God’s Gospel is amazing news about what His son Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. It is about what GOD HAS DONE. Never lose the wonder of the Gospel! It ought to be the true center of our living – defining, motivating, and satisfying us. The Gospel is our first and most important discipline, for it is the source of godliness.
Does the Gospel define, motivate and satisfy us? Are churches defined, motivated and satisfied in the Gospel – in what GOD HAS DONE? Unfortunately, we tend to lean toward more of a man-centered gospel, and then we wonder why we become disinterested, bored, and unfulfilled in Christ. We get caught up in trying to figure out what WE can do to receive more blessings and assurance of God’s grace and favor.
We must discipline ourselves to love the Gospel – the TRUE Gospel! We must train our hearts and minds to love and know the Scriptures. In the book, From Fear to Freedom, Rose Marie Miller speaks of the freedom that comes from abandoning ourselves to the TRUTHS of the Gospel. She emphasizes the importance of believing God’s Word to be true in EVERY area of our lives, even in the most painful areas where SELF clenches ever so tightly.
Most of us want quick solutions to our problems. We have more interest in immediate deliverance from pain than in what God wants to teach us through the pain. But the Father does not let us escape; He lets us alone until we become fed up with our own self-centered attitudes. When a healthy despair of self sets in, then God begins quietly to breathe into us a new teachability . . . One of the most serious of human faults is relying on ourselves instead of relying on God. There is nothing we give up more reluctantly than the feeling that I CAN DO IT. When that doesn’t work, our natural impulse is simply despair.
How I pray that we would begin relying on God, believing His truths to be relevant and applicable in EVERY area of our lives – in our homes, at the workplace, and even as we worship! I pray that we would find despair in our own self-righteous efforts and that this would breathe into us a new teachability – a humble and contrite spirit that loves to worship and proclaim what GOD HAS DONE! May our worship of God and our love for the Gospel reflect great joy, value and satisfaction.
Father, thank you that You do not forsake us in our own self-centered attitudes, but that You continue to sanctify us more and more into the image of the Gospel.
Holy and anointed One
Risen and exalted One
Your Name is like honey on my lips
Your Spirit like water to my soul
Your Word is a lamp unto my feet
Jesus, I love You. I love you.