Feb 11, 2014
Emphasizing the gospel or good works?
One of my current reads was a Christmas gift from my husband, written by Elyse Fitzpatrick. (I've mentioned her before here.)
This is the third book I've read by Elyse and I have to say once again I am thankful for her focus (no matter the topic) on the gospel as the main thing, or more specifically, all that Christ has accomplished for us and what this means in our daily lives. More on the book another time, but this one thought has been on my mind and I thought I would briefly lay it out here and invite your comments.
For some reason I find this a difficult concept to articulate - the doubtful counter-response I've sometimes heard sounds like "but aren't we supposed to be doing good works and being better people as Christians? Shouldn't we focus less on theology and more on doing?"
Of course, obedience and good works should be the result of a life changed by Christ, and yes, we should strive for them (with right motives), but I don't think this should be our main focus, and much of what I've read over the last several years (in both Scripture and other writing and preaching) has helped me think through this issue and believe this more firmly: the main point in all of Scripture (and therefore, what should be the main focus in our lives and growth as Christians) is who God is and what He has done for us through Christ.
Time and again in my own life I've learned that simply hearing a long list of do's and don'ts and inspirational messages on making a difference and changing the world and becoming a better person don't truly inspire real growth or a changed heart because the focus is on human effort. It can seriously be discouraging because we know our own hearts and our record of failing over and over and the thought of just trying harder can be exhausting. (Or perhaps another response could be pride as we try to amass for ourselves a list of good deeds and accomplishments, looking down on those we think don't measure up to where we are.)
In contrast, it's when I've taken time to dig into Scripture to discover the amazing truths of the gospel and the character of God, when I've heard Christ preached and shown as infinitely beautiful and worthy and all-satisfying - it's through these things that the love of God burns in my heart and I'm drawn to true worship and am motivated by all that I've seen and tasted to live for Him.
My deepest need is not to do more and be more - it's to see Christ more clearly and know Him more intimately, living in the joy this brings and trusting Him to instruct and convict and change me on the deepest level.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts - do you see a greater need in both the church in general and our daily lives as Christians for the truths of the gospel and what Christ has accomplished to be emphasized more, or do we need a greater focus on the implications of that lived out through obedience and good works?