The Gospel according to whom?
This fall our church community is focusing on the Gospel of Jesus and how we live that out in our day to day lives. It really has been challenging us all to think about why we believe the things we do and how we live out our faith.
As I pondered the gospel message, this scripture came to mind from Romans 12:1-2:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
What would not being conformed to the world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds look like? If trusting in God is key, how do I live that out?
My trust is often in man or myself and not in God. I trust the government for child benefit payments, I trust my health benefits, I trust that my boss will pay me my due salary, I trust that the government will lead our country well. I place a lot of trust in a lot of people, including myself. For example, if things are tight financially, I try my best to cut expenses; I tighten up our accounts; I might even try to find some part-time work to supplement our income. I try to find solutions first, and then I might start praying. If the gospel message is to live out our faith in Jesus and to be radically different than the world, should I not go first to God and seek out a solution?
A gospel of self
To conform to the world is to put our trust in worldly wisdom and knowledge. Sure, there are plenty of good self-help books, programs and ideas. We can google anything and get as much advice and help as we want, but what does it mean to trust the Lord first?
To be transformed by the renewing of our minds means that we no longer think like the world but take on the mind of Christ. Could this be that we first pray and ask for the wisdom that comes from God? Didn’t Jesus do this on a regular basis? He took time to hear from his father, and the Father never contradicted the word. Here we gather knowledge from the word of God and then ask him what we should do? Would this transform our thinking about everything in our lives? Finances, time management, education, sexuality, community, jobs, family, marriage, singleness and so on? Everything we do speaks to the world around us.
The gospel of the world tells us to take life into our own hands and make it our own. That everything that we accomplish is for our gain, applause and our reward. It is a gospel of self, which is false security and it communicates that we have sold out to the world and are like everyone else. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
So which gospel are you following? The human worldly kind that speaks of self-preservation and gratification? Or the gospel of Jesus which asks us to submit everything to him and to live a life that gives all glory to God?