Rather it is it the call to which I answer each and every day to live a life in which the love that has been shown to me is also shown through me; that the things in my life which were and are forgiven are not a hinderance toward my acting out of the gospel in my life but rather a springboard into the sharing and living of that gospel in the lives of others.
You know what I think is a real miracle of the Gospel? It’s that, when it is properly lived out and acted upon, it is a vehicle for and through which we live out our lives outside of ourselves. Really think about it, everything we do is shaped by the world around us. Our actions are responses to stimuli past and present that cause us to think and respond in certain way. We genuinely are a product of where we have been, what we have done, and what has been done to us.
This plays out in both negative and positive ways. Everyone reacts positively or negatively to circumstances based on how they have been treated or affected in the past by similar situations and/or people. So our world view tends to be centered around one person, us. And yet, the gospel calls us to look outside of ourselves and beyond ourselves. Our worldview is no longer a worldview that is shaped primarily within our minds based on responses to how we view things, but rather our worldview is to be based on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the worldview of that which HIS life created.
It is a worldview of love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. It is one in which freedom is intertwined with following, redemption with response, and liberty with love. The gospel is not merely the ticket into heaven that I clock in and out with and go about being unchanged. Rather it is it the call to which I answer each and every day to live a life in which the love that has been shown to me is also shown through me; that the things in my life which were and are forgiven are not a hinderance toward my acting out of the gospel in my life but rather a springboard into the sharing and living of that gospel in the lives of others.
Those others can include anyone and they do include everyone. The gospel is not hindered by class, race, or status. It is not stopped by economics, demographics, or politics. The gospel is a call to come and die a death to self to be set free from the weights which living only to self carry. Those chains are a yoke that are not meant to be carried alone, and some not at all. If I hold the chains of self then everything I do is tilted toward the center of my universe, myself. If I am at the center of my universe while no one else holds me at the center of theirs then it will be very difficult, as a mortal and finite person, to shift the spectrum of joy and contentment continuously in my direction. My circumstances will never line up perfectly to continuously pour into myself to fill that which I have created.
Many try and some are far more successful at it then others. But it will ultimately fail. The gospel calls us to empty ourselves of the pride and selfishness and greed that engulfs the heart turned in on itself. It calls us to turn that heart toward a loving and caring Lord and savior and follow his commands. Not to follow rigidly out of requirement, but out of response to a redemption and a love that we have already been shown and have experienced ourselves.
It is undoubtedly true that some will read this and their response will not be to the gospel, but rather to their experience of people that have come in the past to put them down and call them out. Their sin took center stage as opposed to their heart in the eyes of someone who claimed to be carrying the gospel. Jesus did not call people to be righteous before he came to them, rather he called them to him and made them righteous. Their change came from his love, not the other way around. He loved, ate, drank, and fellowshipped with those who the world viewed as unholy and unworthy while it was those that the world viewed as righteous that were left outside to wonder why he showed such care for those undeserving of his love, his care, and his attention.
If you read this and your response to the gospel is not a response to the heart of the gospel but a response to a person, a church, or a message that you have encountered in the past then I ask you one favor. Open up your web browser and spend a small amount of time reading the book of Matthew or Luke. You don’t even have to try to read all of it. But spend 5 minutes reading, maybe that will draw you into reading for 10 minutes or maybe you’ll read the relatively short books in one sitting. When you do, you’ll see the gospel that calls us to follow, to love, and to care. You’ll see a world in which response is held above requirement and laws are followed out of love and fulfillment rather than legalism.