The Gospel and Relationships

Reblog Below:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweet spot of Gods word. The sweet  spot to me is the Gospel message. If we don’t keep that clearly in our sites we can eventually use scripture to damage relationships as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

I want to expand on some personal reasons why I believe we as Christians need to “Keep the main thing the main thing” and continually beat the gospel message about Christ into our heads. We need to re-remind each other of the Gospel message continuously. Martin Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f).  The gospel might be easy to understand but it is very difficult to apply in a persons life!!!!!

What I have seen [and participated in] is that as sinners we can twist anything and everything, including scripture, in idolotrous ways and suck life out of it for ourselves. People can spend years in Bible Study and still not be closer to Christ and understand the Gospel message any better than they did previously. We have a tendency to use scripture fore getting over bumps in life as opposed to drawing into more intimate relationships with God and the important people around us.

In the book of Genesis, before the fall of man, scripture says we were naked and unashamed.  We had an intimate trust relationship with each other and God.  After the fall of man, without the Gospel true intimacy to God, Christ, and each other is impossible. We can not achieve the intimate relationships we were designed by God to have without the Gospel message. Without the gospel, we will feel the need to portray some level of worthiness or holiness around each other. We cant discuss our true limitations, our shortcomings, our sins as we put on a “mask” of obedience or attempted obedience on. True obedience requires a deep understanding or our sin and an intimacy and vulnerability that only comes from needing a Savior. Without this ground leveling concept of mans total depravity we just CANT achieve intimacy with God, our spouses, or other sinners.

We have,  for whatever reason, learned to live our lives as a sequence of proofs. We start our by proving how great a husband I can be, then a great father, then a great lover, a great moral upright citizen in the pews of MY church…  whatever!  In a sports analogy, eventually. we look down the bench and the bench is empty of any more proofs we can ever have. We see the success and failure of many of these proofs.  In the areas where the proofs were successful we get self righteouss and in the areas the proofs were unsuccessful we learn to  avoid these proofs and live withdrawn, insecure, or overly protective lives and find a defensive form of self righteoussness. In the case where we were victimized in our early life then we use these proofs as self defense mechanisms and have a legalistic, defensive form of self righteoussness that becomes deeply entrenched and self-justified. All of these self-salvation proofs we spend countless hours pursuing come from not finding our sense of approval DEEPLY “in Christ”.   Unfortunately, this problem is easier to understand than it is to apply in real life.  This is why an on-going committment to not only repenting of sins, but more importantly repenting of the sins behind the sins … or the idolatry of our sins  is so important.   Many people repent of their sins but far fewer learn to repent of the sins behind the sins.  Only a DEEP  understanding of the Gospel  and the Cross  and what Jesus did allows us to be vulnerability  honest to God and with ourselves about our sin.

We all have different histories, insecurities, and emotions. We have not walked in each others shoes. We sin “yes”, we are selfish yes. But we yearn for a close, intimate, trust with Christ and each other. IF we focus on the externals, “the problem”, without transparently sharing our intimate heart issue we will ultimately destroy what we once had. If we share our intimate issues and especially our feelings and emotions in a transparent, deeper way with other men and with our spouses and if our spouse can not focus on the externals then the problem is not quite as daunting. Eventually a deeper, more intimate trust than the “external behavior” based trust is built. Hopefully this trust will last forever. All of this is built on the idea that the external behavior is not the problem. If fact, focusing on the externals gets IN THE WAY of true intimacy, it gets in the way of resolving sin since its not getting to the “HEART” of where the deeper problem lies. IF we focus on the externals then we are doomed to a pattern of judgement, hypocrisy, and pharisiism (yes the pharisee that lives in all of us). We learn to not share our feelings since we CANT really share them without being condemned by the other person. Intimacy and trust will always be ultimately destroyed in a world focussed on externals.

We tend to focus on the problem …. but a wise person once told me “THE PROBLEM IS NOT THE PROBLEM”. As a matter of fact, focusing on the problem only tightens the power of the noose around our necks in dealing with the problem. As we focus on the problem, the problem becomes more entrenched in our lives. Dealing with the underlying “heart issue” is the problem and sharing those in a transparent way is essential to maintaining intimacy with God and others.   Many people repent of their sins but few people repent of the sins behind the sins and few see sin at the deep level that scripture describes.   A deep understanding of the Cross, a deep understanding of the Gosple is the trigger to allow us to start being honest with ourselves.  The Gospel freedom I am discussing on this BLOG topic gives us the ability to be honest about ourselves, to understand the sin behind the sin, to see our own religious idolatry as well as our irreligious idolatry,  and to become a sleuth of our own hearts through the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  Anyhow,  read my Vision Statement and you will understand me more.

Also, if we find our self-worth in ONLY external behaviors without a deeper understanding of sin and without a deeper understanding of the heart, we eventually lose the boldness and braveness to reach out to each other and to take risks emotionally with each other in loving ways as our spouse and friends eventually see through the masks of artificiality we put on each morning. We will portray our relationships, kids, etc as more perfect than they really are and build up a net of lies to each other. Real “gospel” transformation without intimacy and trust is impossible and eventually becomes focused on external results and behavior only.

True intimacy does not put on a face or our “Sunday best” and it attempts to have an intimate inner relationship as opposed to focusing on externals. It comes with heartfelt communication. Quite often people or spouses have beaten the ability of their partner or friend to confess their weaknesses to each other as we attempt to speak to them in Christian-ese. We become too impatient to allow Gods life changing relationship through Jesus Christ transform us from the inside out. Instead we try to transform each other from the outside in. In doing so intimacy and trust in our relationship is damaged and broken and it becomes almost impossible to reclaim as we persist in this superficial area for too long. We lose the capacity for intimacy quite often as we attempt to grow as a Christian when we focus on external moral behavior. With this type of deeper intimacy comes deep trust as well. As people we tend to see trust as if you do this behavior then I trust and if you do that behavior then I distrust you. However, gospel trust, begins with an understanding that we are more sinful than we cared to ever admit. If we actually believe that then intimacy is really about sharing our emotional frailty as humans. if we can share this frailty on a deeply emotional level than we can develop a trust much deeper than the one based on performance and the right behavior. This vulnerable openness is the beginning of a “trust” relationship with God and the people around us. It is the starting {and maybe the ending} point of our sanctification. A much deeper intimacy with each other comes after we have fallen and after we realize how great our need is for a savior and how great our need is for transparent, deep, emotional and spiritual intimacy.

The problem we have as Christians is we try to make obedience the main product of the Christian walk. It it not the product of the Christian walk it is a by-product of the Christian walk. In my real life experiences (long story here) I believe Christians who lead or EASILY throw out the words “obedience” and “truth” do not fully grasp the Gospel message. We tend to show how highly insecure and very unsure we are of our relationship with Christ and the the people around us when we use language like this all the time. The focus we have on externals will destroy our relationships eventually or at best ONLY maintain the relationship we have with others. We will never get to deep “intimacy” in Christ or with people around us. I don’t say this in a judging way, I say this in a way that I hope causes people reading this to reflect on the purpose and core of why they desire to be a Christian. If we can avoid focussing on externals (being a moralist) we can be patient with slow growth or lapses and realize the complexity of change and growth in grace.   What many of the self righteouss “truth and obedience” mongers do NOT realize is that both our justification and our sanctification come from one source and that source is NOT my will.  The only righteousness we have comes through the Cross and what Jesus did in my place.

“The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live a good life. The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness otherwise you would never be able to overcome… religion is ‘if you obey, then you will be accepted’. But the Gospel is, ‘if you are absolutely accepted, and sure you’re accepted, only then will you ever begin to obey’. Those are two utterly different things. Every page of the Bible shows the difference.” — Tim Keller Again

The Gospel path to intimacy is not the path of least resistant approach. It means we share deeply the things hurting and we try deeply to understand the hurts of others. We don’t rashly and quickly jump to the ideas of external based Christianity where we quickly and easily place ourselves over and above others. We realize that how you feel is separate from what you do. To deal with the problem you do not deal with the external problem but you intimately discuss the inner workings of your emotions and how it works with you in light of your history. This intimacy requires relational freedom to express the true you!

The gospel gives you freedom to handle the wrong things that you will do. You won’t have to deny, spin, or repress the truth about yourself. Only with the support of hearing Jesus say, “You are capable of terrible things, but I am absolutely, unconditionally committed to you,” will you be able to be honest with yourself.

A continual re-discovery of the gospel in our Christian walk is absolutely necessary for intimacy and transparency with Christ and transparency and intimacy with Christ is necessary for real transformation. A continual re-discovery of the gospel in our Christian walk is absolutely necessary for intimacy and transparency with each other and transparency and intimacy with each other is necessary for real transformed relationships.

Martin Luther once said the following: “The principal point of the law is to make men not better but worse, But by the knowledge of their sin they may be humbled, terrified, bruised, and broken … and by this means they may be driven by Grace so to come to Christ”. Scott Sauls said in a sermon once “That we will never hunger for Christs beauty until we have seen the filth of our own vain efforts to make ourselves beautiful” . Both of these are great summary sentences cause by reflecting on scripture and validly good attempts to understand scripture through the eyes of Christ.

The Gospel is not the beginning of our Christian walk it IS the entirety of the Christian walk! Lets keep the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in focus!

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