Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Are you familiar with this expression?
Some years ago I began to earnestly make this practice a reality in my life. Because I became a follower of Jesus as a child, I have sometimes slipped into an apathetic attitude towards the miracle of the good news and my own desperate need for it. Preaching the gospel to myself every day has helped me break out of that apathy, and it has recently also been helping me face some significant ministry challenges.
Each and every day, I must remind myself that before I met Christ, I was counted among the “walking dead” all over this planet. Men and women who are in active rebellion against God and are facing a certain destiny of eternal separation from their loving Creator. But somehow, amazingly, unexplainably, God chose me to receive new life through His son. And not only did He breathe new life into my rebellious body, but He adopted me as His son, alongside His very own son, Jesus. He did this so that the new life which has been breathed into my body would be an example to a dying world of God’s patience and grace towards other rebellious humans. And the reason he gave me this “death-to-life” story is so that I would to join Him in His work in this world.
I was dead, but now I am alive. And the purpose of that new life which has been breathed into me is so that I would bring glory to God and invite others to experience this new life as well. This is how people like the Apostle Paul (in Ephesians 2) and the Apostle Peter (in 1 Peter 2) described the gospel.
But even though I am filled with this new life, I live in a dying world.
In writing about his own death-to-life experience, Martin Luther described this world using a more “earthy” version of the word “privy”. When I read that recently in Eric Metaxas’ excellent biography of Martin Luther, I could completely relate — because there are most certainly times in which the world to me seems like a $#!@-house. And living as a made-alive man in a dying world sometimes feels like it has the potential to strangle the life right out of me.
Here are a few current examples: I want so badly for the church that I lead to more vibrantly display the gospel in our neighborhood, but I can’t seem to make the progress I desire … I’m having some major relational challenges with some people who are close to me … Our car broke down last week and the cost of the repairs exceed the value of the vehicle … A misspelling in my name on official documents threatened our foundation and had me tangled up in bureaucratic red-tape … a misunderstanding with a construction contract meant that a colleague and I spent three hours sitting across from two lawyers trying to sort out the mess … and that’s only just the start of my little corner of the world at the moment.
All of these things have been causing me to feel dead inside, and I realize that I even sometimes behave like a dead man, too. Can you relate?
There seems to be a steady gravitational pull in this world toward deadness. And because of that, God has shown me that the reason I must preach the gospel to myself every day is to remember that I am NOT dead – I am ALIVE!. And that it is only the new life that God has breathed into me which makes me distinct from the dying world in which I live. What’s more, it is God’s plan that by seeing expressions of the new life that God breathed into me, the people around me who inhabit this dying world would desire to find new life themselves.
So I’m preaching the gospel to myself every day, in order to remind myself that through Christ, I am alive! Of course I will face struggles and challenges every day in this dying world – should this surprise me? But the gospel has brought me from death to life. And that by seeing the life that lives in me, others will see Christ.
Can you relate? What works for you when the gravitational pull of this dying world threatens to strangle the new life out of you? How are you able to live “totally alive” in a dying world?
— Posted by Mark, who leads the team of EFCA staff serving in Budapest.
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