I have written two posts on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) as well as two posts on the Church. I would like to now combine these four posts into one important post; I have been challenged to learn about myself. To do this, I am going to make a list of “If” statements followed by a few short thoughts on the “Then” – our responsibility and how we should then tie it all together. Hopefully this will bring each aspect of these posts together much like a conclusion of a book or an article. I hope it will encourage conversation and questions of your own that will provoke us to be more about the body of Christ rather than attempting to be something we are not.
We believe that the Gospel is an announcement that “Jesus Christ is Lord.
We believe the Gospel is not about how we can be saved or that Caesar has deity authority.
We believe the Gospel is a message is something that really is “good news.”
We believe the Gospel is dependant on the working of the Holy Spirit.
We believe we are called to love others with holy affection.
We believe we are called to outdo one another in service towards one another.
We believe that we will have to stand in front of God and give an account of our lives – Good or evil.
We believe we are saved for works and not saved by works.
We believe that it is the people that make up the church and not a building.
We believe that Church ultimately is a place of community, fellowship, and unity.
We believe that the Church is sent out to make other communities that imitate the way of Jesus.
We believe that we are dependant on the body of Christ in order to embody the image of Christ.
We believe that Church splits are dumb.
We believe that Church splits divide the body of Christ.
We believe that the reasons for Church splits are not always biblical but are oftentimes selfish in nature.
We believe that we are called to live in unity with others despite their personal, theological differences.
Why are we doing such a bad job at being the Church? Why are the divorce rates among Christians just as bad if not worse off than the world in which it seeks to proclaim the good news? Why don’t we allow forgiveness to reign in our hearts when someone wrongs us? Why are we always so ready to “stick it to the man?” Why can’t we allow our differences regarding a whole bunch of issues that has nothing to do with salvation to be the very thing that divides us? Why is it when people see you or I in the grocery store or behind the wheel, they have a hard time seeing something different in us – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that He is Lord? Why can’t we allow love to be our defining characteristic? These are some honest questions I have been considering along the way and I am really struggling to find the answers to these questions because, as the body of Christ, I don’t see why it is so hard for us to be the Gospel in the flesh. I am so tired of getting a bad rap from non-believers because we don’t act any different from the world in which we live. I am in the world, yes. But I am striving to not live of it. I want people to see that. I want people to see the Gospel in the flesh when they see me. That should be the goal and desire of every believer who has experienced the good news of Christ and possess the image of Christ.
When you and I received the good news and confessed Jesus as Lord, we made a claim that any other authority is subservient to Jesus. We have no other gods that can prevail against that truth. We, in a very real sense, took on the Gospel. When we lived as the world, for example, we did whatever we wanted with our money. Now that we have put on the Gospel of Jesus, we have come to realize it never was our money in the first place – it was always God’s. Therefore, how we give and how we spend and how we save our money must be significantly different then our “worldly thinking.” This goes for every aspect of our lives (work ethic, relationships, sleep, our eating habits, are “down time,” all of our time, and our lives respectively) – this all changes and has to because we no longer live as the world but we have put on, as Paul states in many of his letters, the new man – or put on Christ.
Now this is significant because this new man is no longer defined by my personal thoughts or selfish desires but ultimately comes under the headship of Jesus Christ. Arguing about paint colors for a wall (see post on church split), for example, should not be something that you or I entertain because it is about the Gospel – not the color of a church wall. How a church looks in general (see post on the church) should not be a vision of religion but an embodiment of Christ.
In conclusion, I want to leave you with a question that you can ask of yourself. It is not a question I have thought up but have pondered – so I can’t take any credit for thinking of it. I hope you will take a moment and reflected, meditate, or whatever it is you do to think about spiritual things and respond in such a manner that involves both action and words.
“If someone else were to live your life right now, at this moment, would they know the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how to live it out in a tangible, real, and authentic manner?”