Two different times over the last few days I have had someone relate a story to me of where during the last year they had the opportunity to share with a group the basics of how the gospel changes our lives if we accept it and they had been astounded that so few people understood or had ever heard that truth before. Most of those hearing these messages had heard the gospel and had even accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, but they didn’t understand that if we live gospel centered lives that our lives will change and be radically different than they were before we met Christ.
Yesterday I visited a church with a friend and seated behind us was a family that was also visiting this church for the first time. My friend adores her church and is very friendly and loving toward others so we immediately turned to this family when given the opportunity to greet them. We learned that they had just experienced a very painful and shattering experience in another church and it was a huge step for them even to come to church that morning. I was very thankful God gave me the opportunity to share with them and to provide words that I hope ministered to them. I was also able to pray briefly with the wife. One of the key things I reminded them of is that God is good and he doesn’t change (this was after I knew they were open to hearing that and being reinforced in that way). We reminded each other that leaders are human and as humans we all make mistakes which can hurt people. I hope they found some encouragement and support that morning and I believe they did as they were still at the church talking with others after 90% of the people had left.
Through these experiences I have been reminded that Christians are called to live a gospel centered life. If we know the gospel and the truth of that “good news” has really impacted us and become personal then it will change our lives. It will give us hope even when we are faced with the most painful situations where we are hurt by others believers. I have known the gospel for many years, but this summer the heart of the gospel, the truth of the “good news” become bigger, stronger, and more real than the pain and brokenness from the abuse I had experienced and the wounds I carried. Until I realized how powerful the gospel was and let it impact my mind, heart and soul to the point where it became so glorious to me that I wanted nothing else I had let my past, the pain, and my wounds rule in my life. I had let my wounds define me more than the gospel. I now realize that I need the gospel to define me, and that through belief in the Word I will begin to live in such a way that my life is worthy of the gospel of Christ. I want my life to show that “good news” to others.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. (Philippians 1:27-28)