Losing your Awe for the Gospel
The first time I saw the ‘The Passion of the Christ’ by Mel Gibson, I had a uniquely jarring experience. I arrived at the cinema with a number of Christian friends who were all quite nervous about what we were about to see. Even before the film was released, all reports claimed it was a very graphic retelling of the lead up to Christ’s crucifixion. We entered the cinema, took our seats, gripped our chairs in deathly silence, and expected the worst. Across the aisle was a different story though. A man about my age sat with his buddies and for the next two hours chatted away while scoffing down popcorn, maltsters, skittles, ice creams and XXXL cokes.
The whole experience made me wonder: How can two people, both interested in the Gospel, have such contrasting awe for the Gospel? Perhaps these were men who had once held a genuine affection for Christ but somehow lost it along the way. Perhaps seeing this film was a last ditched attempt to reignite their faith. Or, perhaps they just got free tickets and had no idea what they were seeing.
Let’s suppose the former scenario.
Reclaiming Your Awe for the Gospel
How does awe for the Gospel become lost to believers?
I’ve noticed that believers often lose their affection for the Gospel when they can’t see how it connects to their everyday lives. Awe for God can wane when we have no ongoing understanding of how the Gospel affects our lives. We must have a growing knowledge of how the Gospel affects our marriages, jobs, sexuality, leisure, family, and so on.
The Apostle Paul put forward the argument that being a Christian isn’t about merely holding to a religious system. It’s actually about acknowledging the ongoing effect the Gospel has on the identity of the believer. He writes that we have been adopted into the family of God (Eph 1), and through inheriting the blessings of being in His family, we’re able to experience all areas of life through a renewed perspective.
Our New Identity in Christ Changes Everything
Here are 4 examples of how our new identity in Christ changes our everyday lives.
I’m underappreciated at work and am constantly given menial tasks.
Through the Gospel, I have received a new identity in Christ. This means that because I have repented of my sin and declared Jesus Christ as Lord, I find my ultimate acceptance in God and my inclusion in His family. This means I am free from needing to gain my self-worth and value from my employer. I am then able to produce work free from anxiety and stress, knowing that I’m fully accepted by the one who matters most.
This should ignite our hearts to produce work out of being content in our relationship with Christ, rather than seeing work as a tool for finding approval.
My marriage isn’t bringing me the fulfillment that I thought that it would bring
It’s easy to believe the lie that marriage is supposed to complete you. Especially when we use language like ‘my better half’ or ‘my other half’. While those phrases are cute and can be used poetically, it’s not very useful when marriages come under pressure. Jesus said, ‘Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’. (John 6:35). This means that the Gospel allows me to find my ultimate fulfillment in a source that is able to handle our insecurities and fear. When we come to Christ with our needs, we free our partners from the surmounting pressure of perfection and are able to receive the merciful ministry of Christ that he so freely offers.
Marriages can then become a platform for worship; a gift given from God to reflect the servant love Christ has for his church (Eph. 5:22-23)
I want to go to Europe and find myself
There is nothing wrong with Europe, but you can be rest assured that if you don’t know who you are before you go, you won’t find yourself when you’re there. Europe is beautiful but it was never created to help you find the meaning of life. Paul writes, ‘For you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand…’ (Eph 2:10). Paul is explaining that you have been created by Christ for Christ. He has designed you and knows what’s best for your flourishing. This means that the Gospel actually enables you to receive your God-given purpose.
I’m addicted to a life of alcohol, sex and endless partying
It can be very peculiar for the new Christian who, once saved, still feels temptation to live apart from Christ. It’s actually very common for most Christians to feel temptation to do what Paul describes as ‘living by the flesh’ (Rom 8:5). Without the Gospel, our selfish and conceited desires have no explanation. We simply have urges and no guide-rails to help us steer clear of danger.
Through the Gospel, believers have received a pattern for living that brings joy incomparable to a life of temporary fixes. Jesus says, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’ (John 10:10). The Gospel acknowledges the efforts of the Devil but also declares the victory in Christ! Believers will always feel a weight of temptation. However, the good news is that Jesus has defeated the purposes of the devil and believers are free to flourish in Christ’s good purpose for our lives.
Friends, the Gospel is the celebration of the good news that through Christ, we can repent from our sins and be fully adopted into His family. This affects our entire identity, from the grand events of life to the very mundane.
Pastor Carl Robinson