“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus…” 2 Timothy 2:1
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” Ephesians 5:2
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel…” Galatians 2:14
“Abide in me and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
I have come to believe that finding pleasure in Christ is an absolute do or die proposition. If I fail to find joy and happiness in Christ my sin nature will lead me to lesser pleasures that are sure to leave me in despair and bondage. I desperately want to finish the race that I have started and I know that the only way to do that is to immerse my heart, mind and soul in the life of Jesus Christ. To stay focused on Christ I have been thinking more and more about the implications between the gospel and everyday life…
- Salvation: When you think about the implications of the gospel you have to start here. Entering into the kingdom of God is not accomplished through religious activity (Ephesians 2:8). Instead, Jesus freely gave up his life on the cross and offers us the gift of eternal life.
- The antidote to our over-active sin nature. Our souls are constantly seeking pleasure; something that will make us happy. The song “Constant Craving” by K.D. Lang comes to mind when I think about my old nature. If we are not daily feeding our soul with the Bread of life, Jesus Christ, then we will find pleasure in things that only bring pain, bondage and disillusionment.
- Workplace: What role does the gospel have in the workplace? When I rededicated my life to the Lord at the age of 20 I would take my Bible to work (literally) and set it out in obvious places for people to see. Effective? Not so much. Was I a bit of a Bible-thumper back then? You bet. Taking the gospel to work does not mean we have to try to sneak Jesus into every conversation. The gospel is the foundation for how we see the workplace. I think this quote from Every Good Endeavor will explain what I mean: “While from the outside there might not be immediately noticeable differences between a well-run company reflecting a gospel world-view and one reflecting primarily the world-story of the marketplace, inside the differences could be very noticeable. The gospel-centered business would have a discernible vision for serving the customer in a unique way, a lack of adversarial relationships and exploitation, and extremely strong emphasis on excellence and product quality, and an ethical environment that goes “all the way down” to the bottom of the organizational chart and to all the realities of daily behavior, even when high ethics mean a loss of margin. In the business animated by the gospel worldview, profit is simply one of many important bottom lines.” P. 168
- Everyday, routine, mundane life: Frequently you will hear people talk about how we should live radical lives for Jesus. Who can argue with that? Jesus has certainly called us to lay down everything in order to follow him. No question. Sometimes I believe that within this idea of living a radical life there is this subtle notion that radical means being a missionary overseas, working full-time in the church, or para-church ministry. What about the rest of us? What about the single mom who is balancing a job and taking care of three kids? The high school student who is trying to walk with Christ in a very secular environment? The business owner who is slugging it out in corporate America? Is it possible to live a radical life for these “ordinary people.” Absolutely. If we have our lives firmly grounded in the gospel then we will be living as salt and light in everyday life. We realize that in each context, of every day, that we are ambassadors for the good news of Jesus Christ. Because of the gospel everyday life has new meaning and purpose. Radical is living everyday life with gospel intentionality.
- Community: Part of our gospel identity is that we have been saved into the family of God (Ephesians 2:19). We have to resist the tendency to see salvation as merely a private transaction between ourselves and God. We are more than saved individuals, we are now brothers and sisters living for the kingdom of God! Are we opening up our lives to deep, messy relationships within the church family? Community is part of our identity in Christ but it is also the greenhouse whereby discipleship flourishes.
- Trials: Most of the time we seek ways, understandably so, to avoid pain in our lives. We want the pain to end or the circumstances to get better. We only have to look at the way God used the suffering of Jesus on the cross to be reminded that every struggle we experience leaves us with the option of becoming bitter or more like Christ. In James 1:2-4 we read, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” The “perfect” and “complete” that James writes about is his way of saying that the thorn in our flesh is there to make us more and more like Jesus Christ. We seek escape from our trials, God’s seeks our redemption.
- Contentment: One of the most counter-cultural words I can think of is contentment. Our culture is absolutely rigged to leave us with the nagging feeling that we don’t have enough or that we don’t measure up. The gospel reminds us that we are so loved by Jesus that he laid down his life on the cross for us. We have the greatest gift that could ever be imagined; an ongoing, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. As we prayerfully reflect on these gospel truths we will find that we develop a deep sense of gratitude regardless of life’s circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13).
- Marriage. I must admit, I am amazed by people who seem to have a strong marriage yet they do not know Christ. How do they do it? Thinking about the gospel on a daily basis reminds me to put the needs of my wife first.
- Parenting/children: If I fail to give my children more grace than law I am making it a foregone conclusion that they will sin and rebel. Do we remember this during the daily grind of parenting? Law highlights sin, the good news of Jesus Christ is the remedy.
- Politics: The gospel reminds me that although it is good to be involved in politics nothing has the power to change the heart or the world like the good news of Jesus Christ. Loving our neighbor is much more subversive than an angry political rant.
- Preaching: Exhortations to greater obedience and to live radical lives will yield little lasting fruit if we are not continually pointing people to the grace and love of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who empowers, inspires and sustains us into a new way of living. “Grace inspires what the law demands.”
- Missional living: The passion to love our neighbors, care about social injustices and to see everyday life as our mission field only comes (and sustained) when we are amazed by the grace Jesus Christ has shown to us on the cross. Without heavy doses of the gospel we will crash and burn instead of living a life for the good of others.
- Money and stewardship: Reflect on the generosity of our heavenly Father sending his precious Son to a world that was going to reject and kill him. Meditate on the sacrifice of Jesus taking our sins upon himself, dying in our place so that we could have eternal life. As we make the gospel central to our daily thoughts we will increasingly become people of generosity in every area of our lives.
- Training and equipping leaders: Are we equipping our ministry leaders to point others to the only one who can truly bring spiritual transformation? We want to equip our people to do more than give good advice, we want them to give the gospel. We need to listen, care and read the bible but we must always be speaking the truth in love. In John 14:6 Jesus makes it very clear that he is “the way, the TRUTH, and the life…” Our greatest spiritual need is always more Jesus.
- Our house: Are we opening up our homes and our lives to our neighbors/strangers? By God’s grace some people will come to know the Lord by attending a worship service and hearing the Word of God. With that said, there are many people who will never show up to “church” but they are willing to share a meal with us. For many people in our post-Christian culture our house, our relationships with them, is the only place they may ever learn just how amazing Jesus is!
- Curriculum in Children’s and Youth Ministry: Are we teaching our children and youth good moral stories from the bible or are we teaching them good moral stories that continually point them to their ongoing need for Jesus Christ? Big, big difference!
- Weakness: It is not uncommon for people in the church to put up a front and and act like everything is OK. The result of this posturing is that we end up hiding our brokenness from the very ones who are there to encourage us and help us grow in our faith. In 2 Corinthians 12:29 Paul writes this, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. The amazing thing about this is that it is when we finally admit that we don’t have it all together and admit our weakness that the power of Jesus Christ is strong in and through us.
- Dealing with conflict: I’m a PK, which means I have seen my fair share of church conflict. When you open up your heart and life to others in the church there is a good chance that you will get hurt. Sheep bite. If a church does not have a culture of forgiveness then their spiritual growth will always be stunted due to bitterness, divisions and in house fighting. How do we respond when we have been offended or sinned against? The gospel gives us the answer. As Jesus is dying an agonizing death on the cross he asks his Father to forgive the very ones who are in the process of murdering him. Nothing empowers or inspires us to forgive others like the gospel. Not sure who to credit for this quote, but it certainly is true, “Avoiding conflict = cowardice. Enjoying conflict = arrogance. Redeeming conflict = Christian.”
- Pornography: Quote taken from “Closing the Window: Steps to Living Porn Free” by Tim Chester. “One Christian who’s struggled with porn concludes: Modern conservative evangelicalism fuels sexual addiction because it has come to focus on the externals of religion, not the affections. By externals I mean such things as confessions, dogmas, personal priorities, church growth strategies, church attendance, training courses, evangelism, Bible study groups and so on: things that are visible in the believer’s life. By affections, I mean those things that cannot be heard or seen directly-fears, loves, joys, delights, hates, anxieties: the currents that swirl in the waters of a believer’s heart; the hidden desires that lie deep beneath our decisions…If we are going to help people struggling with sexual addiction, we need to recognize that the manger in which their sin is cradled is not the intellect, but the heart, the seat of their desires. They therefore need something more than mere information: they need to be wooed by the true and pure lover that their heart secretly seeks. Jesus offers living water. Battling porn in our lives is not an exercise in denying pleasure. It’s about fighting pleasure with greater pleasure.”
- How we feel about our relationship with God: Am I good enough? Am I measuring up? Is God unhappy with me? Maybe I can be on my best behavior for awhile and get back into God’s favor. These types of questions and thoughts can haunt us and leave us feeling like a spiritual failure. The gospel tells us very clearly that when we have been saved that we are declared righteous (Romans 5:11). We read this. We say this. We may even think we truly get it, but we desperately need to be reminded that when God looks at us he sees the righteousness of his precious Son Jesus Christ. God’s love for us does not waver based on whether or not we have had a solid week of bible study or if we have seriously sinned. God’s grace abounds and you and I are deeply loved by our Father!
- Does it really matter if we connect every day life with the gospel? In John 15 Jesus tells us this, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” I believe that when we are prayerfully thinking about how the gospel relates to everyday life that we are abiding in Jesus Christ. As we abide in Jesus we are strengthened and empowered to live the life that he is calling us to. Overcoming temptation, being filled with the Spirit, and living in such a way that brings God glory is all dependent on immersing our hearts and minds on a daily basis in the gospel.
I plan on updating this list from time to time…what would you add?