Forgetting and Remembering
It’s been 10 years since as a college student, I first believed that the good news of God’s love really applied to me because of Jesus Christ. The excitement of that realization burned strong for a solid couple years – eventually, however, I forgot what was so good about the good news. This has become a noticeable pattern now in my life – the forgetting and the remembering. I need the help of people like Jack Miller, founder of Serge, to say “Cheer up!” and give me a reality check, remind me of the incredible goodness of God.
In Gospel Identity, a small-group curriculum on how the grace of God changes people, there are four key aspects that the study turns to in helping us to remember what’s so good about the good news of Jesus Christ.
1. Cheer Up! The gospel is far greater than you can imagine!
The gospel of Jesus Christ—and his power to transform our lives and relationships, communities, and ultimately, the nations—is the best news we will ever hear. It gives us a new identity not based on race, social class, gender, theology, or a system of rules and regulations but on faith in Jesus—and it’s an identity that defines every aspect of our lives. Because of this, we no longer have to hide from our sin and pretend that we have it all together. We now have a new way to live and relate to God and others every day.
The good news is not only relevant to us when we first believe, but it continues to work in us and through us as we continue to believe and visible expresses itself in love (Gal. 5:6).
2. Cheer up! You are worse than you think!
One of the great hindrances to Christian growth, healthy friendships, and strong communities is a life of pretense. We pretend that we don’t struggle with self-righteous attitudes, foul tempers, nagging anxieties, lustful looks, controlling and critical hearts, or a multitude of sins. We generally believe that we are better than other people. Part of the good news is that God knows all this—knows us—already, and he wants to be the one who changes us. Because our sin blocks our intimacy with God and others, we need God’s Spirit to show us our many fears and offensive ways, and we need the insights of others to encourage us and speak into our lives.
Our first two points work together in a cyclical fashion. None of us wants to look at our sin without knowing the good news of forgiveness and deliverance from it. On the other hand, our view of the gospel is severely limited if we do not continually see the depths of our sin. The gospel cannot soak deeply into us unless it addresses our ongoing need for it. And that brings us to the third reason to cheer up…
3. Cheer up! God’s Spirit works in your weakness!
We not only have a new identity, but we have been given the Spirit who is more than sufficient to lead, guide, and empower us in our new life. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in our new lives as well (Eph. 1:19-20). Nevertheless, the power of the Spirit does not work automatically, but through repentant, obedient faith. Furthermore, this power is made evident through our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9, 13:4). Along with Paul, we can delight in our weakness, for then we are strong, and God is glorified. The result is a wonderful freedom to forget about ourselves and stop wondering whether we have enough ability—we don’t. But we can rejoice in the knowledge that God uses and empowers the weak. Therefore we have the hope discussed in our next reason to cheer up.
4. Cheer up! God’s Kingdom is more wonderful than you can imagine!
The kingdom of God is the new and final age that began with Jesus’ coming. It is the age of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). The kingdom of God is about the renewing of all things, and God has made us a part of this great story of salvation. This kingdom is about the reconciliation of relationships, about the restoration of justice and equality, about freedom from every lord except Jesus, about forgiveness, and about the defeat of Satan. It is about compassion for the poor and powerless, about helping those who are marginalized and rejected by society, and about using our gifts and resources for the advancement of others. It is about new communities and the transformation of society and culture. For Paul, to preach the gospel is to preach the kingdom, and therefore to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27).
God’s Transforming Love
The ultimate goal here is love—love rooted in a growing faith in Jesus, which leads to more love (Gal. 5:6). Believing the gospel, the Bible’s main message of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, has massive potential to transform our lives and the world through love. In the complexity of life and the hardships of ministry—that is a great reason to cheer up.
Excerpted from Gospel Identity: Discovering Who You Really Are © 2012. Used by permission of New Growth Press. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. To purchase this and other resources, please visit www.newgrowthpress.com. Image sourced from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.