The Gospel-shaped Life

Posted on September 1, 2009 by

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I am convinced that the Christians most powerful witness to the reality of the resurrection is expressed in and through the dynamic experiencing and expressing of the Gospel-shaped life.

One of the greatest tragedies of historical theology i.e., the movement(s) of interpretive process and practice within God’s Word in Church history, is found in Christianity’s seemingly unreconciled dualism between faith and works. For centuries, Christians, and even those from other faith based religions, have always had the proclivity to pit the practice of one’s faith against ones faith professed.

Today, things are no different.

Social sensitivity (works) and dogmatic doctrine (faith) continue to have just as much a grip on today’s young evangelical. Those that resonate with more socially sensitive action (orthopraxy) seamlessly throw out the confessed creeds of Christianity, whereas those that empathize more with the profession of Christian doctrines (orthodoxy) are stereotyped as sterile and socially inept.

However ongoing this battle has raged, it will, and continues to be one of the primary tools used by Satan to disprove the validity of the Christian faith and deflate the gospels power.

It is only, and only when the Christian begins to experience belief (faith) and observable obedience (works) as inseparable that the Gospel of Christ is truly and powerfully expressed. In fact, it is in the Gospel message itself, namely satisfaction in its workings, that the Christian receives the gutsy grace to faithfully witness through good works to a watching world. This is the Christians point of reference. His or her grid. The timeless example. This is what I like to call the Gospel-shaped life.

Time and time again, God through the Holy Spirit, empowered writers of the Scriptures to point us here: it is in our savoring of the saving and enduring gift of grace that our capacity to also extend this grace is found.

John, in his first letter to the church in Ephesus makes this quite clear “we love because he first loved us”. John also encourages these believers again “beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”. The writer of this letter is calling for the community of believers, and us today, to the task of continually putting before ourselves the Gospel as the grid for daily life. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in Him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Right doctrine should always lead to right behavior. If the Christian fails to express this claim, James himself states “his or her faith in dead”. Gospel-shaped living bids the Christian to come and die (a life of self-sacrifice) in order to experience the greater joy found in bearing daily witness to the cross of Christ for the fame of Christ, for the salvation of all peoples. Christian, know that God wants to partner with you so that more would experience the grace of God for the glory of God.

Root your praxis of practice in the life and death of Christ. Place all dependence on God’s preserving grace for the enduring work of witness, so that, others would turn from sin and be found righteous in the cross of Christ.

Relevant citations (1 John 4, 1 John 3, James 2)

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Posted in: Theology