Over the past few months I have been coming to a deeper meaning of what it means to believe in the gospel. Part of the reason I have been contemplating this issue is that I have been reading two books. The first book is entitled, ͞You Are What You Want͟ by J.A. Smith. In this book, Smith lays out his basic understanding of how we operate. When it comes to raising followers of Jesus, we often operate in a way where we measure Christian maturity by what we know about the Bible. The assumption is that if we get enough knowledge about the Bible, or help a person understand a doctrine or a fact, this person will grow. While information is important, information transfer does not make a disciple of Christ. When we act or behave a certain way, we are ultimately led by the desires of our heart. We are not just brains that are walking around. We have souls and bodies that are shaped by our desires. In other words, at the core of our being, we are worshipers.
We worship what we believe will give us a meaningful, successful, and happy life. The places we go, the stories we hear both actively and passively shape us. The stories and the narratives that we hear around us shape the desires of the heart. We are constantly engaging various competing stories that tell us what is the ultimate purpose of life. To be a Christian Disciple is to shape the desires. It is to have our hearts won over to the gospel story and allow the gospel to capture our hearts and desires. When we think about raising Disciples of Christ, we must not just busy ourselves with giving information, but we must also engage the desires and motives of the heart.
The second book is titled, ͞Gospel Fluency͟ by Jeff Vanderstelt. In this book, Vanderstelt is helping readers to take the gospel from just a set of facts to engaging the stories and the issues of our lives. He takes the gospel and helps unpack what it means for our day-to-day living. The heart of the matter is that we often fail to believe the gospel and live out its implications for our lives. We can often reduce Christianity to praying a prayer or simply thinking that we believe in Jesus so we won’t go to hell. The Gospel is so much deeper and richer. The Gospel influences and speaks into our fears, our doubts, our failures, and other idols we worship. It has the power to shape a community and help us know Jesus more. The Gospel changes our lives and sets us free from slavery to sin. The way this happens is similar to a way a person learns a new language. At first we talk in a new language in a ͞broken͟ way. Then the person is able to speak slowly and haltingly. Eventually the person internalizes the language where they are thinking in another language.
For a person who is ͞fluent͟ in the Gospel, they must understand what the gospel is and then continue to unpack the impact of the Gospel throughout their lives. We begin to realize a thing like when a person is struggling with is not just because of another person, but also from a heart of sin within us. We begin to see that we can forgive and love because that is what Christ has done for us. We begin to be set free from the fear of pleasing others because Christ has come to restore us in a right relationship with God.
When the Gospel becomes treasured, it influences all of life. A person is motivated and thinks everything through the lens of the Good News of what Jesus has done for us.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to engage the heart and examine possible ways that GCC has yet to allow the Gospel to penetrate. You may be challenged in what you actually believe. You may be surprised that the Gospel can have such an impact. You may be encouraged to allow the Gospel to go deeper into your heart. May the Lord guide and bless us in these next few weeks as we consider the power of the Gospel.