Have you ever heard the phrase, “preach the Gospel to yourself”? I first came across this while reading Jerry Bridge’s book, The Discipline of Grace. At first it sounded weird, because if I’m a Christian and have already responded to the Gospel, do I really need to keep hearing it again, and again? Once God has transformed a life, doesn’t He faithfully continue that transformation in us and facilitate our spiritual growth? At least that’s what I believe. And isn’t the Gospel message what I’m supposed to be sharing with unbelievers?
I soon learned that Bridges was using this phrase to say something very different. What he’s saying is the Gospel always brings us back home: the starting line, home plate, the core, the reset button, control-alt-delete — or something like that. As we meditate on it, we’re reminded of how much we’re loved by God. It’s Bible 101 — God’s grace does everything for us. The arrow is always pointing down.
When I meet new people, one of the first exchanged questions is, “what do you do?” It’s a question that often defines us. Now imagine we’re all sitting around a table at Starbucks with God sitting there and strangers ask Him what He does. Now His answer could get rather lengthy and you might think the first words out of His mouth would be, “in the beginning.” But I think He would simply say or ask, “have you read about the Gospel?” The Gospel is the embodiment of who God is. God’s About Page (if He had a blog) would be all about the Gospel.
On a very practical level, the Gospel put’s us in a frame of mind where we can be used most effectively by God. It knocks over our pride and all our cleverness. We’re all on a level playing field with the Gospel. It reminds us of the most fundamental thing all humans need — a restored relationship with our Creator. And while we’re experiencing that restoration, let’s help our brothers and sisters discover that same joy.
The Gospel also unclutters our lives. Over time, we let a lot of new ideas and messages creep in. Good things often weigh us down. We get overly busy and our motives often become skewed with our own selfish drives.
And one of those drives is to be smarter than the next guy. Have more knowledge. But we’re not preaching the Gospel to ourselves to gain more knowledge or learn something new. That seems to be a preoccupation for many of us these days: novelty, to learn something new. And there’s certainly a place for that as we study the scriptures and ask for God’s wisdom. But what I’m talking about here is gazing on the beauty of Christ and what He has done for me and to me. Being in awe of Him and being moved by that.
You are forgiven! You are loved! Let those two simple sentences ring in your ears and the corridors of your mind. Your soul and spirit need to be reminded of this. You are a child of God, bought and paid for. Allow God to speak His grace into your life through the Gospel message. We need to hear that message everyday, because the sin of pride and our destructive emotions will substitute it with a different gospel.
So go in God’s grace and keep your heart focused on the beautiful Gospel of peace.