Is there a way our lives can be informed and influenced with a unifying message and have it shape every other aspect of how we live? Our lives are influenced by countless outside sources. Each day we look to the weatherman for his message, and it informs us on how we should dress for the day. Similarly, our kids come home with mounds of information that relay to us when signups for sports take place, or when picture day is going to be. This influences how we will align our schedules, our financial resources, and how we will lead our children. It is easy for us to become disjointed by the many forms of influence, crashing our loyalties into every rock we believe to be our anchor. How then can we regain stability in our lives and maintain a consistent purpose in our existence? The Gospel.
Consider this, think on the most defining day in your life and how that shaped who you are and how you live. For me, I could speak to the impact my wedding day had on me, or the days my four kids were born. Each of those moments transformed my life and how I think and how I function. When I married my wife, I no longer thought as a man who was single, nor behaved as one. My life, since March 31st, 2007 and forward, has been committed to grow and function in an ongoing relationship with my wife with her interests at heart. The same is true for our children. As each one entered the world, our lives grew in adjustment to their arrival. So now, I view life as a husband and as a father. But the Gospel informs and influences even those roles in my life and should yours too.
I can be a husband and a father outside the Gospel, but to do so would be to miss a central importance in both those roles. For if I fail to function as a husband informed by the Gospel, I will never love my wife in the way that she needs to be loved. The same is true of my kids. The Gospel then is the only unifying message that can inform and influence our lives in every regard. Until the Gospel captures us so, we will remain adrift pursuing all manners of fulfillment, but finding no satisfaction. It is then imperative that we begin to understand and apply how the Gospel unifies our lives in way that we have never experienced before. Below I’d like to share with you the two key areas informed and influenced by the Gospel—the way we think and the way we live.
How the Gospel Transforms the Way We Think
In Philippians 1:27, Paul tells us to “Live our lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” The word behind the translation “Live” is extremely significant to how the Gospel informs and influences our thinking. Most translations fail to capture the full mentality behind the word by translating the Greek term as “Live” or “Conduct.” Only the New Living Translation captures the essence of the verb in a way that best represents the term in our English language, translating it, “live as citizens of heaven.” The word refers to behavior natural to freed citizens. This is relatable for us as free American citizens. We celebrate all manners of freedom and our thoughts are influenced and informed by those freedoms. In fact, if someone attempts to impede on our freedom, we are quick to respond in opposition for our thoughts of freedom have conditioned our behavior. So when leaders threaten our religious freedom, or freedom of speech, we respond in ways that are natural to us as free citizens of the United States of America.
This is Paul’s desire for his audience. They lived their lives as freed Roman citizens and enjoyed that freedom. The thoughts of their citizenship impacted their lives in a way that reflected their free state. Paul says that the Gospel grants a higher citizenship that is found in the heavenly places in Christ. This citizenship supersedes any other earthly citizenship and should then inform and influence every thought in life. The Gospel then becomes the filter by which all things sift through. Every thought must be captured by the Gospel. As we watch a movie, as we hear a song, as we start a new relationship, the Gospel informs our perspective and inspires our motivation. Our thoughts must be elevated by the Gospel, for they dictate our action.
How the Gospel Transforms the Way We Live
Americans are quickly spotted when traveling overseas. We tend to stick out like a sore thumb. The way we dress, the way we walk, and the way we order our food, all point to the fact that we are from an entirely different world. If you have ever left the country, or if you are a Texan and have left the state of Texas, then you have probably experienced something similar! When we travel, we still carry our citizenship with us. We might be in another country, but we still function as Americans. We hope for the same conveniences; we desire to speak the same language; and we are not even remotely ashamed of it. This is because we are not only American citizens and naturally think as American citizens, we enjoy being American citizens.
The Gospel is something to enjoy. As we begin to comprehend our citizenship in heaven, the excitement of such thoughts overtakes us, and our lives begin to demonstrate that we are not from around here. Our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom is lived out best when the Gospel of Christ is enjoyed most. Then as we step out on American soil, we step out first not as Americans, but Christians, citizens of an otherworldly kingdom. As we pilgrimage through this life, we interact with others around us in a way that demonstrates the work of the Gospel in our lives. The hardships of others, social injustice, and the many troubles experienced around us are responded to in a way the presents the future hope and expectation we have as citizens of God’s rule. We fight back against poverty for there will be a day when poverty will not exist. We fight back against injustice, for one day only God’s justice will be enjoyed. We live expectantly in the midst of sickness and sorrow, for the future hope we have in Christ reveals that sickness, death, and sorrow will be no more. Such an understanding of our position in Christ fills us with joy and excitement, and impacts how we live. Again, our citizenship in Christ’s kingdom is lived out best when the Gospel of Christ is enjoyed most.
Only the Gospel can bring stability and consistency in our lives. The more we view our world through the lens of the Gospel, the more we will be able enjoy a life centered on the Gospel. This enjoyment is ultimately an enjoyment in Christ. Because of Him “We live, move, and exist” (Acts 17:28), and for His glory we live our lives. A life in Christ is a life centered in the Gospel, and a life centered in the Gospel is a life worth living.
For His Kingdom,