What do people want out of life?
If a genie suddenly appear to a person and granted one wish, what might that person request? I’m sure the answers would be varied and many.
How about this question: what do I (or you) have as a follower of Jesus that a person who is not a follower of Jesus would want?
I’m not talking about something philosophical, but something that is real, that actually exists in me. I’m not talking about something that will happen in the future; I’m talking about right now.
People today are very savvy. People, especially the younger generations, are able to see when they are being sold a “bill of goods” or being offered something that rings hollow because the person offering it truly isn’t experiencing what is being offered. I wonder if that’s why many of the younger generations have rejected what the church has been offering.
For example, if one talks about the peace that the gospel brings yet is living a life full of stress and anxiety and worry, that discussion is nothing more than philosophical in nature, and any talk of the peace the gospel brings, rings hollow.
It has been said, erroneously, that “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.” That is so wrong. On the contrary, it is quite accurate to say, “Not everyone who can do can teach, but in order to teach, one must first be able to do.”
Just like it is impossible to truly and in ways that matter teach something without first being able to do it (this is so the student’s questions can be answered from the teacher’s practical experience of doing it, because how often does theory not translate to reality? Quite often.), what followers of Jesus offer to others must be in line with what they are first experiencing.
Do we realize that this is how God works? Whatever God offers to us, He first possesses. Whatever God desires from us, He first pours that into us. Consider the following verses as examples:
Galatians 5:1 – “With freedom, Christ did set us free.” Christ possesses freedom and it is that freedom with which he sets us free and gives to us.
1 John 4:10-11 – “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son a propitiation for our sin. Brothers, if in this way God loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The love with which God expects us to love others is the very same love with which He loved us and poured into us.
God doesn’t do unfunded mandates.
There are very practical and real results of the gospel for this life and the living of it, results that cause those who have believed to approach and live life differently than those who have not believed.
And I’m not talking about some heightened sense of or following some code of morality. I’m talking about exhibiting the nature of God which resides in us as our one and true and only nature through Christ being in us and us in Christ. I’m talking about out-of-this-world love; I’m talking about peace, even in the midst of life’s storms, that goes beyond explanation. I’m talking gentleness, goodness, joy, etc. that goes beyond understanding.
I’m not interested in a gospel that has no real and practical results for life now, for that’s not the true gospel. The true gospel teaches that, upon my belief in Christ, God killed my old nature, crucified it with Christ, and then resurrected me to walk in newness of life, just as Christ walked. I am given the nature of Christ so that what I live in this flesh is Christ. That means that the characteristics Jesus possesses are now mine: peace, love, patience, gentleness, joy, kindness, goodness, and the like.
That’s how God knows me and that’s how I must know and view myself. That’s how I must think, changing my thinking so that it is brought in line with how God thinks. And the more and more my thinking comes into alignment with God’s, it’s truly amazing how what God has already poured into me and made me be comes out in life.
And then, I can truly back up when I tell people why the gospel is truly awesome news.