Jeremy & Carol do not like each other. Jeremy is passive and Carol is hurt. Carol has been in therapy for many years and their problems have not gone away and their marriage is no better off today than it was when Carol began her therapy sessions. The fundamental problem with Jeremy and Carol is that they do not understand the Gospel.
When I shared this with them, they dismissed this notion with a wry smile. The Gospel is too simple and they had already “accepted Christ” twenty something years ago. From their perspective, they understand the Gospel, accepted the Gospel, and are now looking for something a bit more sophisticated to help them through their marriage difficulty.
While they express a desire to please God, neither one of them knows how to do this and their church is not equipped to handle their issues. Their pastor recommended they see a psychologist, which led Carol to a psychiatrist, who prescribed Zoloft.
Their pastor has often preached about how there is no problem too big for God. On the other hand, their psychologist encouraged them to think more highly of themselves through a “healthier” self-esteem while their psychiatrist gave Carol a diagnosis of an organic problem that can only be overcome by medication. Three different messages are vying for favor in their hearts, while I’m offering a fourth alternative that comes across as “less intelligent” and a bit archaic.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? … For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. –1 Cor. 1:18, 20, 22-25 (ESV)
Let’s Role Play for a Minute: How Should the Gospel Affect Jeremy and Carol
Suppose Jeremy & Carol truly understood that they were on the precipice of hell. Let’s further suppose that they knew they were the worst, wickedest, and most undeserving people who ever lived. And there was not one ounce of an entitlement attitude in their souls. They were the worst of the worst.
Now let’s suppose someone came and totally transformed their lives. If anyone had ever gone from worst to first, Jeremy and Carol were those people. They received an “other worldly” gift that they not only did not deserve, but they were absolutely helpless in ever earning. Jeremy and Carol were truly regenerated: they were born again. They are now seated in heavenly places with the One who fully secured their regeneration. They have been affected by the Gospel.
How Should the Gospel Affect You
Let’s suppose that you really do understand the Gospel and that your understanding is something deeper and broader than the casual, average, run-of-the-mill understanding that any person who has ever been associated with Christianity possesses. The following is a short list of attitudes and behaviors you should demonstrate:
- Daily amazement at what has happened to them.
- Daily gratitude for what has happened for them.
- Joyful awareness that their greatest problem in life has been resolved.
- Overwhelmed by hope because they now know that no problem is too big for God.
- Sobered awareness of what they were: amazed awareness of God’s mercy.
- Serving others is their first thought, as it pertains to behavior.
- Hope, joy, care, encouragement, gratitude, and kindness are the characteristics of their lives.
- Tearfulness is a normal response as they think of Christ and what he did for them.
- Gospel-centered-motivations shape what they do.
- Radically transformed from the inside out.
- Uninhibited in their transparency with others.
Unfortunately the descriptors above do not describe Jeremy and Carol. They are spoiled Americans who believe they deserve better than what they currently have. They believe they are better than what they are receiving, when the truth is they deserve a lot worse than what they are receiving. They are wise in their own minds and are yet unwilling to condescend to the foolishness of the Gospel.