Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Gospel: Live It!

* One of the occasional meditations I write for our church bulletin.

The Gospel: Love it!  Live it!  Share it!  Defend it!

What does it mean to “live” the gospel?  The gospel is the message of a kind and loving God sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die in the place of undeserving sinners so as to redeem them and reconcile them to God.  We receive this grace by faith (Ephesians 2.8-9) and this faith moves us to more and more align our lives and lifestyles around this gospel message.  Paul urges the Philippian church to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1.27).  Part of what this means is to renounce living for oneself in prideful self-centeredness but, rather, to live as a servant toward others—since this is how Jesus lived (Philippians 2.3-8).  There is a place for “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2.12).  This is not a working for our salvation—as if our self-effort merits salvation.  Rather, those who have been touched by God’s grace in the forgiveness of sins also have the resources of the Holy Spirit to empower for lives of ever-increasing conformity to the life of Christ.

Consider this from another angle.  The New Testament is filled with commands for us to live like the God and Christ of the gospel.  The God of the gospel is a loving God even toward his enemies so we are to be loving toward our enemies—“therefore you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5.48).  God is loving toward his children so we are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you” (Ephesians 5.1-2).  God in Christ has forgiven us so we are also to forgive each other in the same way—“just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” (Colossians 3.13).  The God of the gospel is holy—without sin and fully devoted to the cause of purity.  The apostle Peter urges the church: “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1.15-16; quoting Leviticus 19.2). 

Living out the gospel is living in such a way that we imitate the character of God in his holiness, love, humility, and forgiveness.  As these Spirit-empowered characteristics are manifest in our midst then it can be truly said that we are living out the gospel.

The Gospel: Live it!