The transition between years always prompts reflection and anticipation. It’s the perfect time to ponder what we learned in the year past and what we hope to accomplish in the one to come. The in-between time of the holidays provides the perfect context for both celebration and reflection, anticipation and examination.
Our “spheres of being” focus. I am a child of God, a husband, a daddy, a friend, a pastor, a music-lover, etc. etc. etc. But the center to all of these is the Gospel. I hesitate to write about this because “gospel-centrality” has become both a buzz word and a point of contention for many evangelicals. But, as I reflect on 2010 and anticipate 2011, the biggest thing that stands out to me is exactly that: “Gospel-centrality.” Tim Keller, Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Jeff Vanderstelt and Caesar Kalinowski have helped me deepen my understanding and “practice” of Gospel living.
Having grown up in American Evangelicalism, and realizing that, in many ways, I am one of its “products,” I have become tremendously convicted that much of American “ministry” simply assumes the Gospel as its foundation. When we speak of the Gospel, it is in broad, general terms primarily dealing with how we “get into heaven” when we die. It is hardly the focus or foundation of much of our ministry. Instead, we stand on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and wonder why our people are self-centered consumers.
It’s an interesting situation, because these are not things that I didn’t “know.” But I’m beginning to think that part of the Christian life is re-learning things you already “knew” in deeper and brighter ways. I have been reminded that the Gospel is our motivation for obedience; that, as a pastor, I can’t simply put expectations of living on people and expect that they’ll live that way if the Gospel is not our foundation. I have been reminded that the Gospel is our identity, not just a doctrine to be spouted.
The Gospel should inform our every thought and every conversation. We should be “fluent” in it the way we become fluent in language. We should speak it and demonstrate it to one another in daily life and we will not live “on mission’ until we are saturated in the Gospel. We will never exhaust the glories of Calvary. Even angels long to gaze into these truths. The answer to our (true) problems is always at our fingertips and the Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave lives in us! The Gospel is the true and better story that gives us our identity, our strength, our security, our joy, and our motivation. It is what defines us and sweeps us up into something greater than us.
In the time of transition, sometimes it’s best just to remember that we need t0 re-center, to stand again on the only foundation that will not fail us.