Here is my basic premise for writing this; too often we are giving people human wisdom to deal with problems in life and we fail to give them what they most desperately need, the good news of Jesus Christ.
What do you do when someone in your small group begins sharing that they no longer feel as if they are in love with their spouse? We can tell them that everyone struggles with their feelings from time to time. We can encourage, support and tell them we will pray for them. Anything wrong with this? No, not really. The issue is that it does not go deep enough, it does not have the power to bring healing and spiritual transformation.
What if instead of merely giving this struggling friend some advice you presented them with the gospel? Some aspects of your conversation would not need to change. You still need to listen, support, love and pray for them. But the greatest act of love would be for you to point them to the only One who can truly heal what is broken in their heart and in their marriage. What if instead of giving them some advice you pointed them to a passage like Ephesians 5:22-33. In this passage we clearly see that the gospel reveals to us that love has little to do with how we are feeling. Through the cross we see Jesus loving us passionately while we were mired in sin and living in complete rebellion to the ways of God. That is how Jesus loves us and we respond by extending that same love to our spouse.
I have a growing conviction that as leaders in the church we need to be training our people to see all of life through a gospel grid. Even though a person has been saved by the grace of Jesus Christ they need to learn how to apply that same grace to everyday life.
Let’s be fair. There are some situations in life where it would be unnecessary, and quite awkward, to explore the depths of the gospel and how it applies. If my son, Justice, wants to know if he should use a sniper rifle for paintball or an automatic pistol I won’t try to take him to the cross to find the answer. This would make me look like an idiot and infuriate my son. But when it comes to the deeper issues of life we need to make sure we are not merely dispensing some Hallmark advice and instead relying on the power of Jesus Christ.
How does this impact the way we train and equip our leaders?
How does this impact the way we communicate with our neighbors?
Do you give good advice or do you give the gospel?