True North and Gutter Balls

The idea of True North is predicated on a couple of verses in scripture. One is the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and the other is Gal 2:14 where Paul challenged Peter for not acting “in line” with the truth of the Gospel.   This line that Paul challenged Peter with is the “true north line” and why my BLOG is called gospel-centric.

If the parable of the prodigal son could be metaphorically compared to a bowling alley the examples of both brothers exemplify the gutter balls we  can throw when we attempt to live our lives …. or even as we live our faith.  The younger brother is the left gutter ball and he squanders the fathers wealth on wild living and prostitutes.   The younger brother represents the do-it-your-own-way apart from God technique.  The elder brother is the right gutter ball and he hangs out at the Father’s house being fastidiously good but is always thinking “what’s in it for me” for being so good.  In the parable of the pharisee and the tax collector you see that the elder brother is always comparing his goodness  with the “evil tax collector”.  The religious sect of the day (the pharisees) were looking down on certain classes of sinners.  In todays world, pharisee-like thinkers come off with a parent-child like relationship with other people when they discuss moral issues and look down on people not living up to the moral standard that makes other people “acceptable” to them.

The idea of True North then is that in the center of the bowling alley is the Gospel, freedom, Christ, and the Cross.   True North IS the Gospel!!    The Gospel (True North) becomes our compass so we don’t fall off-track either to the legalistic, Pharisaical right or the licentious left.

Most of us have thrown both right and left gutter balls in our lives.   I know I have.  Also, when my left gutter ball,  younger brother story came out, I found out that friends throwing right gutter balls (pharisee like thinkers) were not safe people to share our stories with. They listened to our story upfront but kept a safe distance and and an aloof and slightly cold attitude toward  us afterwards. They even held a silent condemnation of us that eventually led to a broken friendship.  :-(.  This attitude of these people toward me actually served to drive  my shame and sin deeper!   The idea of True North has also freed me so I don’t engage in this black and white, all or nothing thinking that is  damaging and hurtful to so many relationships and marriages.

It is in light of this story and these scriptures that gave birth to the term True North,  My wife and I facilitate groups with couples struggling in the marriages.   Also, I facilitate groups of  men who struggle with on-going  issues and I try keep the idea of “True North” at the center of my thinkology. One of our main goals we have as my wife and I facilitate these groups is to provide a safe environment for men and couples to share their stories — and we have found that often the church or church people are not equipped or safe to handle these stories.

As I write this and consider what True North means I think of Matthew 9:13 where Jesus tells us “but go and learn what this means,   I desire Mercy not sacrifice”.  As he says “go and learn what this means” Jesus is telling us that this is not an easy to understand truth.  He wants us to ponder it, mull it over, and consider it daily! In all wisdom to utilize this deep truth!

By keeping the gospel-centric to our world-view,  our understanding of truth does not become stoically detached from the “heart” of sinners that live with other sinners.   The Gospel message of Jesus on the cross… the same thing that justifies us and saved us … also becomes the thing that grows us and sanctifies us over time.   Grace and mercy is not a one time thing, grace and mercy are everyday things!!!!! Grace and mercy saves us and grace and mercy refreshes us daily.  The gospel saves and the gospel refreshes us daily.  The gospel,  grace,  and mercy are also the foundation for change in the heart of sinners!!!!!!

I can honestly say that in a world where two sinners will say “I do” and marry each other that this gospel-centric view is THE MAIN REASON my marriage is thriving in a fallen world.

The Gospel

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Jesus’ purpose on the cross tell us …
We are more sinful and weak than we ever cared to admit and (why Jesus had to die for me) …
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope (why Jesus was glad to die for me).

We will never hunger for Christs’ beauty until we have seen the filth of our own vain efforts to make ourselves beautiful.

4 thoughts on “True North and Gutter Balls

  1. Bill Harnist

    Interesting stuff, this. I find that in my leadership of groups that if I am vulnerable, transparent, manifest humility (my definition of humility is: “Being aware of my strenghts and weaknesses, and not being ashamed about talking about either.), freedom, and courage–that I am acting in line with the Gospel as my “true north.”

    This is leading by example–kinda like what Jesus did (see Matthew 11: 28-ff. The Message Bible).

    I like that thought, “true north.” I am going to use that somewhere–with attribution, of course!

  2. centralityofthegospel Post author

    Yup. True North… The Gospel. demonstrates humility because it knows we are all sinners walking among other sinners and that we are only Holy because of what Christ did for us! The knowledge should give us freedom!

    Thanks Bill!!!!

  3. centralityofthegospel Post author

    “Being aware of my strenghts and weaknesses, and not being ashamed about talking about either.)

    That’s a good definition of humility… because many Christians see humility as just keeping quiet, not having an opinion and NOT expressing yourself. Quietness can get misinterpreted as humility when it really is not!

    IN freedom we need to learn to express ourselves (strengths, weaknesses, sins) so we can start to “dig a little deeper” in our groups Bill.

    Thanks bro!

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