One of my greatest fears when we started Impact Church is that when we called ourselves a “Gospel-centered” church it would trick people into thinking they were actually living Gospel-centered lives. See, just because you associate with a Gospel-centered organization doesn’t mean you are Gospel-centered yourself. I can know everything about baseball. I can go to every game, sit on the front row, cheer and even donate to their causes. I can meet all the other fans and study about the history of the team and learn every stat about the players. But… That doesn’t make me a baseball player. I actually have to put in the work it takes and DO what the players DO. With Jesus, just because we associate ourselves with Him on Sunday’s or on social media, doesn’t mean we are actually following and are in a relationship with Him.
So, here are just a couple of things to consider on whether or not you are living a self-centered or Gospel-centered life…
Self-centered lives prefer non-offensive sermons. Honestly, we all prefer non-offensive sermons. And I’m not talking about the ones laced with cheap shots and absent of grace. We have a culture that will cancel you immediately if you do not say what they believe. The Gospel doesn’t do this. In fact, even the idea of grace is offensive to our attitudes of self. So, we must preach The Gospel whether it is convenient and attracts large crowds or not. Like Apostle Paul tells Timothy… “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” Gospel-centered lives preach that salvation is found nowhere else other than in belief in Jesus Christ.
Self-centered lives have a really strong presence in social justice issues but are not pushy with The Gospel. When it comes to fighting for social justice and preaching The Gospel, it’s not one or the other. If you are preaching The Gospel without fighting for biblical justice, then you don’t really believe in The Gospel you are preaching. Likewise, if you are fighting hard for social justice and not bringing The Bible into it or giving people a chance to trust in Jesus, you aren’t really bringing them eternal justice. A Gospel-centered life can do both simultaneously. We can have a strong presence in social justice and preach The Gospel as the main event at the same time.
Self-centered lives value religion over a relationship. People who don’t want to go “all in” to following Jesus can use religious traditions as a way to make themselves feel better about what may happen to them after they die. However, Jesus never asked His followers to be loosely affiliated with Him. He never called His followers to attend church, say the prayers and live however they wanted to. Jesus called His followers to an intimate relationship that is real and everlasting. A Gospel-centered life lives in radical abandonment to this world and loves God with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength.
Let’s all ask ourselves… Are we living a self-centered life or a Gospel-centered life? And here’s a secret… If our church says we are Gospel-centered but none of our members are actually living lives that are Gospel-centered… We are fake.