The Gospel is Still Changing Me

The Gospel changed me.

It is still changing me.

Did you think the Gospel message was just for sinners… just for folks that don’t believe in Jesus or haven’t accepted God’s gift of forgiveness?

Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when He began teaching in the synagogue:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

“Freedom for the prisoners,” He says. Some translations say “captives.” Captive to what? Prisoners of what? Freedom from what!?!

Freedom from the power of sin? Yes.
Freedom from the power of death? Yes!
Freedom from the power of sickness, the power of bondage, the power of addictions? Yes!

But also freedom from the yoke of religion and the law.

He quoted the prophet Isaiah to those who would know… the religious law-makers, the rabbis, the legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees, the self-righteous… like you and me.

Truth be told, we all have a bit of self-righteousness in us. Yes, all of us. Don’t get mad at me here. You can’t help it; it’s your default setting. We all do it. Since the fall of man, we’ve been doing it. Look it up; you’ll see.

I do it and you do it. Unfortunately, we may not recognize it. We may have even subtly passed this teaching on to those who would listen. I know I have. It goes something like this…

If you pray more, God will bless you more.

Or…

If you read your Bible more, God will bless you more.

We all do it. We think it. Be honest. Isn’t there a tinge of that somewhere inside you? I’d bet there is. (Wait, I can’t bet as a Christian; God might not bless me. Oops… there it is again!)

We think that if we do good, God will bless us more, show more favor to us, or worse, love us more. We also think that if we do bad, God will bless us less, show less favor to us, or worse, love us less.

That simply is not true. That is self-righteousness. And that is one of the things Jesus came to give us freedom from.

Jesus proclaimed in His dying words, “It is finished.”

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian says:

“God’s demand is: Be perfect.
God’s diagnosis is: Nobody’s perfect.
God’s deliverance: Jesus was perfect for you.

The flesh is always resistant to ‘It is finished.’ Always. You want to talk about the mortification of sin? Start there. Start with that part of you that resists, ‘It is finished.’ That’s unbelief.

The litmus test on whether the Gospel has been communicated in a sermon, book, blog post, or tweet is: If you don’t feel lighter or freer after it’s been communicated, it wasn’t the Gospel.”

The Gospel is still changing me.

Today Changes Everything

Today is Good Friday. To me, this is the most meaningful day of the year. Although I really love the reborn exuberance of Easter Sunday and the peace of the Christmas season, this day is where everything changes for me.

This morning as I re-read the account of what happened on this day about 2000 years ago, I was struck at the sacrificial love of Jesus. I recalled the images of “The Passion of the Christ” as I read again about Gethsemane, Jesus’ arrest, and the Crucifixion. What could possibly drive a man to do that?!?

Simply said, LOVE. A new kind of love. A sacrificial love. A love that gave up all His rights and privileges. A love that laid down His life for the sake of others.

That is how we are called to love. That’s how we’re called to live.

Today is the day where the slate is wiped clean, where everything is forgiven, and a fresh start begins. Today is the day when you love those around you with the same, lay-it-all-down kind of love.

Closer

It’s Holy Week. The Christian world knows this. It’s the week that brings victory out of defeat. To me, it’s the most meaningful week of the year. It is the week that brings hope. Hope of new beginnings. Hope of a fresh start. Hope of a clean slate. And most of all, hope of eternal life.

But there are many that have no idea of the significance. To many it’s a week just like any other week. It was probably was the same way in Jesus’ day. Some were oblivious.

For me, this week makes me take notice. I want to read Scripture more. I want to see everything there is to see about what happened this week just over 2000 years ago. I want to attend dramas. I want to visit the Stations of the Cross. And I won’t miss Good Friday service. I want to draw as close as possible to God this week.

I wonder if Jesus’ disciples wanted to do the same. I wonder if those closest to the Christ wanted to cherish every moment during his final week in flesh. As many know, they really didn’t realize it was his final week, even after repeated references by Jesus that His end was near. But if they did understand that something was looming, I wonder if they wanted to be human sponges, soaking in every word of wisdom and watching every move he made.

That’s what I want to do. I want to watch every move He makes and listen to every word He speaks. I want to pray more. I want to just sit in His presence. I want Him to rub off on me. I want to become more like him and less like me.

All the while, millions go through this week not seeing the Savior. It’s not that they don’t realize it’s Easter. They know. Muslims know. Jews know. Even Atheists know. But they don’t see the Savior. They don’t recognize His love. They don’t experience His grace. They don’t know His mercy is new every morning.

Maybe for the folks around me each day, they don’t see Him because I’m still more like me and less like Him.

That’s why I need to spend more time with Him.

-–—————

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)