I labor to preach and counsel that the message of Christianity is ultimately good news, not bad news. The good news of Christianity is that we are forgiven of all of our sin through faith in what Christ has done for us, not by what we do for God or ourselves. I also labor to help people understand that we do not just believe the gospel once, but daily live by faith in the gospel of grace. Growth in the Christian life, not just our justification, must revolve around Christ and His grace. We never move on from the gospel.
But I know myself somewhat, and I talk to others for a living, and I fear that I see a tendency in Christians to make our obedience our primary focus. Even those of us who “get” that obedience does not earn us anything from God are not above the temptation to make our Christian growth and obedience the “main event” of Christianity.
It is as if we treat the gospel as the stage in a theater. The stage is vital, because the show will not happen without it. But no one buys a ticket to see a stage. It is about the show that uses the stage as a foundation.
It is easy to treat the gospel like a stage. The real show is you. The gospel is the vital foundation, but you are supposed to move on. Your Christian life, walk, growth, sanctification, and all the wonderful things you will do for the kingdom is the glory for you to boast in and have others stand in awe of. We may not consciously think these thoughts, but we feel the pull to make sanctification revolve around us.
We make Christianity all about us. We are consumed with thoughts about our bad works and good works. We are constantly thinking about what we are doing wrong and what we are doing right, rather than ultimately boasting in what Jesus did right for us.
While our sanctification does concern our growth, we have to understand that Christianity is not all about your growth. And true growth is realizing that more and more. Our primary focus is Jesus, His perfection, His death, and His resurrection. May the gospel be our boast and our celebration, not us.