• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

How to not let the Gospel change our hearts

We often use the phrase: “Preach the Gospel to oneself” as an encouragement to appropriate anew each day the truth of the Gospel for our lives.  However, as I have been mulling over the Gospel the past few months, I have begun to see a number of ways by which inhibit the impact of the Gospel in our lives.  To put it in other words, we may be unconsciously learning day by day how not to let the Gospel change our lives.Complacency

Upon our return from a recent trip to Australia, I exchanged my summer running gear for my winter running gear, and continued my weekly running cycle.  I did only one run before getting sick.  It wasn’t the flu, but I was dragging and decided to hold off on the running.  One week went by, then two, then three without starting up my running again.  By the fourth week, I was now so out of my cycle that the thought of just getting out the door again in the early AM kept me from running.

Complacency had set in, big time.  Maybe I should say that it crept up on me and once it got a hold, it grew like zucchini in the summer garden.

So can it happen in our spiritual journey.  Complacency, through one means or another, can rob us of the joy we have in Christ and make us weary and tired saints.

John Calvin wrote these penetrating words back in the 1500s: “Complacency can exist even without any belief in works.  For many sinners are so drunk with the sweetness of their vices that they think not upon God’s judgment but lie dazed, as it were, in a sort of drowsiness, and do not aspire to the mercy offered to them.  Such sloth is no less to be shaken off than any confidence in ourselves is to be cast away in order that we may without hindrance hasten to Christ, and empty and hungering, may be filled with his good things.”

What shook me out of my physical complacency was my son-in-law inviting me one day in early January to go running with him. We can be shaken out of our spiritual complacency by allowing others to “preach the Gospel” to us and lead us back to the Father.

2 Responses

  1. Preaching the gospel to oneself. I suppose we all know what Martin Luther meant by that. However, in our self-obsessed society today, where we often hear (and I heard it this week): “I don’t need the church to follow God/ to be a good Christian/ to spend time in worship” or something similar. But the New Testament has no concept of following Jesus outside of the community of the church—at least, not in the normal course of life. But it is interesting that Bonhoeffer in prison valued the Christian community so much.

    Nevertheless, here is my point: Being a disciple of Jesus means growing as a disciple together with other disciples who “speak the truth in love” to each other. The more I study Ephesians, the more I believe “truth” here means the gospel, not just something that is true.

    “Let me tell you honestly something I have noticed about you. Of course, I am speaking the truth (about you) in love.”

    No, speaking the truth in love, is calling people to live out the gospel; inviting them with “words that impart grace to the hearer” to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to change their hearts and their behaviour.
    I think that is at the heart of preaching the gospel to each other.

    But the converse must be true. We must be open and willing for others to speak the gospel into our lives in gracious and constructive ways, and to accept good intentions, even when the words are not as full of grace as we would like them to be! We are called to bear one another’s burdens; but that means we have to be humble enough to let someone step in and take the burden from us. It is the same with the gospel.

    • None of us truly likes when another enters our world and serves to ‘shake us out’ of our spiritual doldrums. Yet that is what we must be open to as the Lord uses others in the community to cause us to grow deeper in grace. Thanks for putting it so clearly in these words, John!

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