When you preach the Gospel, part four

This is the Gospel: we stand guiltless before the Father.

This is the Gospel: we have rest in complete trust because the final question is answered.

This the Gospel: we are joyfully content in the abundance of our undeserved living.

This is the Gospel: we give and pour out and sell all our possessions and give because of our abundance and our trust.

Ouch.

This one is a little trickier for me because it is so practical and it starts peeling back fingers on my clenched fists. And, as everyone knows, that’s not always such a pleasant sensation.

The first three parts of the preaching the Gospel are about God pouring himself into us and taking care of us. And I love talking about that because I love to be loved, and I love to be deeply cared for.

But get into pouring myself into others because it’s a necessary response to the Gospel?

Not always so fun to talk about.

Thom and I, financially, are pretty poor. It’s something I’m learning to be joyful in. It’s something I’m learning to be a good steward with.

And it’s something I wrestle with everyday.

I don’t always have enough for a hair cut, or a new pair of shoes (when mine are falling apart), or a new set of brakes for an already old car.

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So…to be generous on top of that? Yeah right.

But here’s th
e Gospel: It’s not the balance of our bank accounts, or the amount of our tithe
The bottom line is this: that we know we have already been provided for in what we absolutely need. Remember? The final question is answered.check, or the surplus in our savings that are the root issue when it comes to generosity. (Luke 12:13-34)

And, that everything we do have is abundance. Remember? We are sinners, deserving nothing, and we’ve already been given Jesus.

This is why preaching the Gospel to ourselves is an every day, practical thing – why the students at Taylor University in Upland-Middle-of-Nowhere, Indiana, have it absolutely right. Because every time I sit down to budget my paycheck, or an opportunity comes up to pick up a tab, or to forgive and forget and debt, I preach the Gospel to myself.

This is the Gospel:

A man was deep, deep in debt. Like…bondage for the rest of your life debt. 

And when it was collection time, the lender brought the man into his office. He pulled a big, dusty ledger off the shelf – the one carefully chronicling the man’s debt – and blew off the top. 

He picked up a pencil…and began erasing…every single line, until all the debt was completely wiped away. 

The man was debt free!

When he left the office, the man gathered every body who owed him. Like…teeny, weeny, gum-ball owed him. And he threw a huge party and said, 

“Friends, today I was freed from a huge debt. So today, I consider you all debt-free too, owing me nothing. In fact, suddenly I have this whole life’s worth I thought would be demanded of me. Please, share with me in my wealth.”

This is the Gospel: no matter the number in our checkbooks, we live the overflowing life because our debts have been wiped clean away and we have been given abundance upon abundance.

When you preach the Gospel, part three

This whole idea of the Gospel being immensely important really struck me a couple months into my very new marriage. I spent so long (almost my whole life) dreaming of my wedding day, through a half-decade of long distance dating, that I guess I expected I would be blissfully happy from there on out.

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I hadn’t stopped my dreaming for more than a fraction of a second to consider how deeply I would miss my family and friends and beloved mountains and small-town hippie Colorado culture.

I went from being beloved to being a stranger.

And my wonderful husband, as deeply as he loves me, as tenderly and faithfully, couldn’t replace all that.

So I spent the first summer of our marriage cursing the humidity and New York speed and the loneliness. There were days that I was just sad, from the moment I woke up until I went back to bed that night.

Not exactly the blissful honeymooner stage I’d been dreaming of…

And then, I read this beautiful little book called 1000 Gifts and it changed everything.

I was forcefully reminded that life is not a right or a privilege but a gift – freely, abundantly and extravagantly given.

When set across the backdrop of the Cross, all of life is excess. Because, remember the Gospel? It says we are sinners, deserving of nothing. Sinners, and the Lord of Heaven’s Armies squeezed himself into rags of flesh and delighted in us and danced over us with singing (!). And died for us and calls us righteous.

Sinners, and we are saved. Sinners, the final question answered.

We’ve already been given the riches of the inheritance of the Kingdom.

When I was convinced of this, suddenly married life in New York, humidity, the job I had – everything – became a blessing. Because I understood what it means to live not even deserving the next breath filling my lungs.

This is the Gospel. I am a sinner, and my lungs fill and my heart beats.

This is the Gospel. I am a sinner, and I am loved and give love. I have a home, a bed and food. I have friends, family, clothes.

This is the Gospel! That life is excessive blessing, because I deserved to be struck down on August 2, 1989, the moment my lungs first drew breath.

This is the Gospel. That we find deep joy because all is mercy and grace and riches.

This is the Gospel. That we live fully content here and now because we understand the gifts we are given with every beat of our heart and every breath of our lungs.