Today seems like the day when I should wrap up, at least for now, my thoughts on the subject of gospel culture. So thank you for letting me share a few more of my ideas, and next week we’ll move in a new direction.
COURAGE. I’d like to unpack that word just a little, and challenge you to think about the connection between grace and courage. As you and I trust Jesus by faith, we are called to hold on to gospel truth with a steadfastness that makes us “immovable” (First Corinthians 15:58). We’re to be rock-solid in our resolve to follow Christ, no matter the price we may have to pay. Such courage is not of our own doing, ultimately, but it is a work of the persevering Holy Spirit in us.
So an outworking of grace in our lives is a holy determination to do what we’ve been put on this earth to do! That sounds exciting, and it is, but it also requires a great deal of courage. Courage to go the distance. Courage to stand strong in the face of fierce opposition. Courage to fight on our knees.
And here’s why I’m raising the issue of courage: it requires that we work together! No one can sustain a lifetime of Christian courage without having the support of the body of Christ. We weren’t designed to walk alone, but we were designed to pour love and blessing into each other along the way.
A courageous discipleship will require some risk-taking. But we’re willing to step onto the field of life and to engage fully in whatever challenge is before us because we’ve been bought by the blood of Christ! Our personal sense of worth and value doesn’t rise and fall with our “successes” and “failures,” because we’re drawing from an endless supply of amazing grace. Come what may, because of the cross, you and I are already approved. “It is finished.” In that environment, and only in that environment, can we love each other boldly and deeply — through and beyond the multitude of inevitable mistakes which will mark each one of our lives this side of heaven.
Where a gospel culture exists, Jesus always comes first. So you and I don’t have to pretend to be something and someone we’re not, because we’ve traded self-assurance for Christ-assurance! Strange as it may sound, the place where everybody loses (dies to themselves) is the place where everybody wins!
That’s the church I want us to become, and to be, for each other.
Will you go there with me? Will you pray for, and heartily pursue, gospel culture? Will you love as you’ve been loved?
I’m imagining a place where we’re not the big deal, but where Jesus is. A place where we’re not the hope, but where hope permeates every fiber of our shared life together. A place where we’re willing not even to be noticed, but where Christ is arrestingly beautiful in our midst.
Sometimes my heart feels heavy, and my soul seems full of doubt and fear. It’s in those moments that I need you to hold up my arms, and to help me see again by faith that the finish line is just over the next hill. And I hope to provide for you, even on your weariest day, at least a small dose of that same peace and refreshment. That’s gospel culture, friends. So perhaps we can learn to sing to each other the words of the great theologian, Kenny Loggins: “Please celebrate me home.”