What then are we to do? How are we to apply this in our lives? These questions bring it all back to the original premise of this series of blog posts. As we investigate and consider the Gospel accounts, “This is what God says,” we need to respond with, “what then must we do.” In other words, if we believe the Gospels as being truth according to what God says and what God has done, then a response is needed. And, it should not be a partial response but a response which is in keeping with the enormity of the Gospel-impact. The Gospel is powerful truth delivered by a powerful God. Those who are hit by the Gospel are not swatted with a feather-duster.
A Gospel-impacted life results in being a new creature, a new character. Gone is the selfish person. The old self is replaced with a new person entirely. The angry become more peaceful. The proud become more humble. The selfish become generous. Christianity is all about God taking a selfish person, intent on fulfilling one’s own selfish lusts and desires and replacing the heart of that person with a loving, merciful, outward-focused, entirely more useful, human being.
The Gospel is not about bringing the Universe into alignment so as to suit our needs and desires. The Gospel is about changing us so we can live in the Universe the way God intended.
As mentioned earlier in this series of posts, for too long Christianity has focused on outward appearance of righteousness. “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, and don’t watch bad movies. Do read your Bible, do go to church, do pray, do be a good citizen.” A true understanding of Gospel impact needs to be aligned with Scripture. We need to think more about our inward character and not as much about our outward actions (although our outward actions will be changed by the inward work of God on our heart).
Imagine if all Christians everywhere became less selfish, more humble, more giving, kinder, and more compassionate. Can we see how our testimony of being a gracious and forgiving people with speech seasoned with encouragement would be a blessing to the world?
What if the rest of the world knows Christians as the people who can be trusted? What if we are known as the people who are always dependable and kind and loving? What if the followers of Jesus actually turn the other cheek or walked the second mile? Suppose people know Christians as good listeners, who cry alongside you when you cry or rejoice (and were not jealous) when you rejoice?
It is easy to look around and see Christians who have not yet died completely to self. As I look at my life, I see too much pride, too much selfishness, too much anger, too much of my old self. I fall far short of the ideals I write about and talk about. I am not the person I want to be. However, I do have confidence that God, who began this work in me, will continue until He is done.
How about all of us Christians seriously consider one thing? Let’s be seriously concerned about our character. Let’s strive for humility and patience, kindness and gentleness, grace and compassion. Let’s desire to be known as the most loving people on the planet. Let’s not be nearly as concerned about changing the morality of unbelievers as we are with being concerned about our own character becoming more like Christ. Let’s live lives worthy of the Gospel. And, let’s preach the Gospel at the same time. This is what God has called us to do and to say. This is how we are impacted by the Gospel. And this is how our Gospel, when we share it, will impact others. Serving Gospel truth is like offering apples of gold. Let’s endeavor to serve the apples of Gold on settings of silver by adorning ourselves with humility, compassion, grace, mercy, and love.