Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gospel in My Life

At present, my husband and my Sunday School class is going through the Tim Keller study, Gospel in Life. We completed session 2 last week and I'm really liking the study so far. Already I'm getting convicted of things, challenged, and having my eyes opened to additional truths - some I knew but had forgotten or chose to ignore, and some fresh revelations.

Specifically within Session 2, Keller discusses the parable of "The Prodigal Son / Parable of the Lost Son" (Luke 15:11-32), which he states is miss titled because Jesus starts, "There was a man who had two sons." I do not believe I've heard this insight on the parable before. Keller goes on to present that God is not simply discussing the irreligious/immoral behavior of the younger son that made him separated from the father, yet fully received once he repented. The parable also points to the other son, who is just as separated from the father as the younger son was when he was away. The older son, however is separated from the father by his "religious" pursuit and frame of mind - being good to gain something later, his father's inheritance. 

Keller goes on to say that there are three ways to live: we can live an irreligious life (pursuing selfish wants, desires, without thought of God), a religious life (working on our own accord, by works, to show God and to feel good about ourselves, full of pride), or a life led by the gospel (totally submitted to Christ, acknowledging that this life is not our own, and allowing Him to move in and through us). 

Both the irreligious and religious life are lives separated from God. Often times it’s easy for us to see the difference and understand the difference between the gospel and the irreligious life. However, we often fall victim to the trap of RELIGION vs the GOSPEL, it’s not so easy to see the difference. So often we buy into the life and lie of RELIGION, all the while missing the point - the GOSPEL. I know I've fallen into this trap... working to live a religious life rather than living out the gospel.

Check out some examples Tim Keller gives of the differences between RELIGION and the GOSPEL below. You may see yourself in these the same way I have.
Religion: "I obey, therefore, I'm accepted"
Gospel: "I'm accepted; therefore, I obey."

Religion: Motivation is based on fear & insecurity.
Gospel: Motivation is based on grateful joy.
Religion: I obey God in order to get things from God.
Gospel: I obey God to get God - to delight in and resemble him.
Religion: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or myself, since I believe that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.
Gospel: When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle, but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while God may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

Religion: When I am criticized, I am furious or devastated, because it is critical that I think of myself as a "good person". Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.
Gospel: When I am criticized, I struggle, but it is not essential for me to think of myself as a "good person". My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God's love for me in Christ.
Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition, and it only heats up when I am in a time of need. My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.
Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration. My main purpose is fellowship with God.
Religion: My self-view swings between two poles. If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people. If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble but not confident - I feel like a failure.
Gospel: My self-view is not based on my moral achievement. In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator - simultaneously sinful and lost, yet accepted in Christ. I am so bad that he had to die for me, and I am so loved that he was glad to die for me. This leads me to deep to deep humility and confidence at the same time.
Religion: My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work, or how moral I am - and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.
Gospel: My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for me. I am saved by sheer grace, so I can't look down on those who believe or practice something different from me. Only by grace am I what I am.
I pray that my heart is turned more towards the gospel daily and that I can put the lie of religion behind me, moving out of the way and allow God to work in and through me!  

John 3:30 "He must become greater; I must become less."

1 comment:

Rachael said...

Um, I totally was thinking I would email you earlier today (I knew you'd said yall had read some TK before) because I've been reading the book during my free time while subbing today and it is crazy good. So full of truth. And I love how he incorporates insights from people like Calvin, Edwards, and Luther. I'm so thankful for this challenge to live gospel rather than live religion.