Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PLEASE stop assuming the gospel is understood...

I grew up in the church.  My Dad is still pastoring the church that I grew up in.  I went to a Christian school.  As a young person I was immersed in church, 24/7.

And yet, for so long I THOUGHT I knew the gospel.  I figured that because I was saved I could mentally check out at church/school/youth group anytime someone shared the gospel.  It wasn't for me.  I didn't need it.  It was for my non believing friends or whatever.

After a while, some of my teachers (not just at school but any of those who were in a position of authority in my life) caught on.  They stopped teaching the gospel to me.  They assumed I didn't need it anymore.  Instead we talked about Bible characters or biblical principles.  Things that are supposed to full of gospel but some how they just weren't.

As a clear disclaimer, I want to say that it is totally possible that the gospel was in all of those lessons and I just wasn't getting it because of my hard heart.  But now that, by God's grace, my heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh, I hear lessons, messages, and sermons where the gospel is still absent.  I find that my heart of flesh is desperate to hear and speak the gospel at all times.  But why is it missing?!

A couple of things happened recently that stirred up these thoughts of mine.  A couple of weeks ago, I attended a training conference hosted by a well known Christian organization.  The conference was full of helpful tips on how to do ministry better.  We sat under teaching that showed a biblical framework for the kind of discipleship that this organization promotes.  It was really wonderful stuff!  But where was the gospel shared?!  In a 30 minute break out session via VHS video tape.  Thats right, I said it.  VHS.  I also recently sat in amongst a group of people who have experienced a very similar childhood and youth to my own.  I found that most of these people were fumbling around with what the Gospel really is.  They couldn't articulate it.  Even after we heard the gospel shared with dramatic and gripping biblical references.

I left both of these settings feeling a bit disappointed.  I want to be the kind of person that hears the gospel in every message.  Even more, I want to be the kind of person that shares the gospel in every conversation I have with people.  As I examine my own heart, I find that I assume the gospel doesn't need to be shared anymore with certain family and friends.  I either figure that its easier not to share it because it might make things uncomfortable, or that there isn't anything that any of us can learn by talking about the gospel together anymore, or maybe some other foolish idea that causes me to think something else is more important to talk about.  How do we all get this so wrong!

Well isn't that just the gospel itself right there?!  Its not about what we do.  We are actually powerless to do anything.  We can't save ourselves from sin.  We can't earn our way to heaven.  We can't share the gospel or talk about in a way that will cause anyone to believe/trust/repent.  For us it is impossible!  Jesus had this to say in the gospel of Matthew, "...with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."  And so I am stopping to ask (because that I know I can do :P).  I am asking God to once again change my heart and mind.  I am asking him to work in and through me so that I won't assume the gospel anymore.  I am asking him to give me eyes to see and ears to hear.  And lastly I am asking him to give me the words to say to everyone I meet that my life and others might be changed by what HE has to say.