Think about gravity for a moment. It is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and yet it is silent and invisible.
Once I come face to face with the real gospel of Jesus, it will well up within me either of great appreciation or joy or a rebellion and resentment. Many of us, particularly many Americans, resent a vital part of the gospel, namely the giftedness of it. Once many are face to face with the fact they have to accept a gift rather than give and give and give of their earning efforts, we are resentful of the gospel.
The gospel makes clear we are "justified as a GIFT by His GRACE through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:24). Oswald Chambers writes, "We cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it."
Here is a stark challenge to the way many of us try to understand the gospel. If you are not receiving it as a gift and trying to work for it with all your own efforts, you are missing it. If you are trying to work and earn God's love, you are choosing to do without it.
It is gift and it is to be received. It does not require your giving or your work. It is selfish pride just as much for me to refuse a gift, because even in that refusal I make way more of myself and less of God.
Who is Jesus to me? He has to first be Savior and LORD before He can be my Teacher. Anyone who only calls Him Teacher must be hopeless, because no pupil or disciple could really accomplish His teaching; not even the best ever student could accomplish his teaching. I need Jesus first to be Savior and LORD. I need first that very realization that I cannot accomplish even a portion of his teaching, because THEN I am 'poor and humble in spirit' enough to know my need for rescue from my undeserving and incapable condition.
Only then can I look with any confidence at His teaching for my life as His disciple and follower. Without His rescue I would only live in despair all the days of my life in comparison to the life he teaches me to live.
Ozzie Chambers wrote, "He came to make me what He teaches me I should be."
I am saved and controlled and covered by His Spirit in those places I wish I could do on my own but could never hope to accomplish on my own. If I begin with my poor and humble need, Jesus says, "You are blessed." (Matthew 5)
You will be happy if you begin with your humble view and realization that you could never accomplish the half of His teaching on your own if not for His Spirit and salvation within.
An interested person visited to see what was happening there, and was able to speak with an elder.
"So what was it your old pastor preached." "He preached that we were all sinners in need of grace that can only be found in Christ." "What is it this new pastor is preaching?" "He preaches that we are all sinners in need of grace that can only be found in Christ." "I fail to see a difference." "Well, this new pastor preaches it with tears in his eyes."
I must say the fact that God continues to give me opportunities to speak and preach is all grace. That he continues to give me opportunities to speak about the gospel of his ridiculous love is Amazing Grace.
I have been made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace...to me the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ.
Every opportunity to preach the gospel is a reminder of how very little merit I have to deserve this honor and responsibility. I never take it so lightly as to miss how desperately undeserving I actually am. I am "less than the least of all God's people" who is continually given ludicrous grace to preach the outrageous, reckless, raging fury that is the love of God.
There is common reminder that Jesus was not the messiah they expected to see, but not much has changed in history. So many people have an idea of what they think a king, a god, a messiah should look like and do.
Even while Jesus hung on the cross in Matthew 27, people passed by "hurling abuse at HIm, wagging their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross." So when Jesus is doing all those things in a different way than they think He should, they deny Him as king and true God.
IT is still the same today. They mock and ridicule Jesus for not being what they assume He should be. We do not get to define what Jesus should be or do. Yet, this is what believers and non-believers alike will consistently do. We need only accept Christ as He has presented himself to us in Scripture.
What you read on these pages will not always reflect perfectly my life's actions. Thus the struggle of living out the way we wish we could. Thus the fight to do what we want to do instead of doing what we do not want to do, and what we do not want to do...this we do.
I am a writer. This means I love to write. This means I express well through written (typed) word. But I am also a daily-broken human being with imperfect feelings, hurts, pains, angers and frustrations. I resound the words of Phillip Yancey, "I soon discover that I write about spiritual disciplines far better than I practice them." The concepts I write about, valid as they may be, are nevertheless hard to live. Does this mean I do not WANT to live them? Of course not, but I suck at it. The reason righteousness is so hard is simply because I suck at it.
This challenges my comment toward pastors, teachers and Christians, "Practice what you preach." Who am I to say they are not trying to practice what they preach, but like me, remain children of an Abba who understands they are humans who cannot wish themselves into perfect and righteous action. They who struggle to do what they wish they would, but it does not and should not take away from their exhausting desire to fight for righteousness and holiness and unconditional love received and given.
Have you ever spoken a word of the gospel to anyone at my workplace? In my imagination, I see an interview about my evangelistic fame. I REALLY saw my past coworkers respond, “Huh? PC? Famous for WHAT? Well, I don’t know….PC was a great guy. I mean I knew he was a Christian, but he didn’t come in here preaching or anything. He was pretty cool about it. He knew I was an alcoholic, and he still laughed with me.” “You know,” says another, “now that I think about it; I can remember times when the store was crazy, and PC kept working hard to help where he didn’t really HAVE to. I don’t know how many times he helped us in a bind. I never noticed it then, but in retrospect, that guy really did work hard.” “Yeah,” chimes another. “He knew my husband was killed in a car accident last year, which left me to raise 2 teenagers alone, and PC listened to me every time I was stressed by kids, pained over my loss of companion, or just tired of work. You know what? I really think he cared about what I was going through, and I think he shared the joy somehow.” Similar stories go around in this hypothetical interview of my coworkers. Then the journalist goes to the coffee shop I ALWAYS go to. He talks to ALL my friends and family…Christian and NON-Christian.
After its over the imaginary article reads, “PC Walker was an evangelist. PC writes in his book, “Christians are so devoted to speaking the gospel (God's love) to or at people instead of living the gospel toward people.” (pg. random #, see footnote). His living out of the gospel reached more people than all the sermons he ever preached, more than any book he has ever written."
I hope that, in reality, I will be remembered by everyone I will have moved on and left in my past as a man who lived the gospel better than he preached or wrote it…..
"I am your child. I quit trying to MAKE myself presentable to you and instead trust that I AM presentable to you despite all of the things that are just parts of a sinful nature around me. I move on in that passage and believe, 'if I confess my sin, you are faithful and just and will purify me and forgive me' because again, you only see your child here, and I need not be plagued by sin OR guilt. I mean is not guilt the actual issue here? Not sin. I mean sin is just inevitable, but what IS of choice by me is whether I will allow guilt to plague me and keep me from seeing myself as your child instead of seeing myself as this horrible person. You're so much quicker to forgive me than I am to forgive myself.