We Need the Gospel
Tullian TchividjianWilliam Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, Tullian is also the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian has authored a number of books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway). He travels extensively, speaking at conferences throughout the U.S., and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program LIBERATE. As a respected pastor, author, and speaker, Tullian is singularly and passionately devoted to seeing people set free by the radical, amazing power of God's grace. When he is not reading, studying, preaching, or writing, Tullian enjoys being with people and relaxing with his wife, Kim, and their three children—Gabe, Nate, and Genna. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf.
- 2009 Mar 18
It’s now been three full days since I preached at Coral Ridge and 91% of their members voted to support my call and the coming together of New City and Coral Ridge. It was a morning to remember for all who experienced it. We were all witnesses to God’s clear direction and fierce protection. His presence was thick and unmistakable. He was speaking and making his will known–and that proved to be the Divine medicine my doubting soul needed.
Now that he has spoken, the work begins. We now go forward with great expectations believing that God is on the move in a big way and we have been chosen by him to go along for the ride. The world will never be the same (at least mine won’t)!
As I mentioned a few days ago, in order to make this transition smooth, the Gospel needs to be embraced and applied by all from both churches. All of us need to be willing and desirous to lay our lives down for one another because Christ laid his life down for us (1 John 3:16). That’s what the Gospel-centered life is. And that’s the life that God has called us to live. No one from either church is going to get everything they want (that’s self-protection). But everyone from both churches will have everything we need to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way (that’s self-sacrifice). We’re all going to have to give. We’re all going to have to stretch and be taken out of our comfort zone. If you don’t understand this then you don’t understand the Gospel–and you’re going to miss God altogether.
There’s a radical difference between tribal and missionary mindsets. The highest value of the tribal-minded is self-protection. Since these people feel safest around those just like them, they ask, “How can I protect myself from those who are different?” They intentionally surround themselves with those who think the way they think, like the things they like, and despise the things they despise.
We all seek out sameness, as John Seel notes: “We cope by settling into our safe intellectual cliques—our favorite blog, cable channel, or e-zine—where our own views are reinforced and applauded. Without really trying, we can easily lose sight of the wider horizon and fail to listen to those who do not think as we do.”
As a result, tribally minded people live with a sense of superiority, looking down on those who are unlike them. This is the “fashionable” posture of our culture.
In contrast, the highest aim of mission-minded people is not self-protection but self-sacrifice. Mission-minded people exist not primarily for themselves but for others. They’re willing to set aside personal preferences in service to those with different preferences. They’re willing to be inconvenienced, discomforted, and spent for the well-being of others.
This difference between mission-mindedness and tribal-mindedness is illustrated well in a note I received recently from my good friend Mike about a recent conversation he had with his wife, Nicole:
Nicole and I were in downtown Fort Lauderdale today. As we were leaving, we passed a park. It was a really nice park, but there was a whole group of homeless people hanging out there. I commented to Nicole that, as nice as the park was, I wouldn’t be able to just walk the kids through the park if we lived down there. Her response to me stung. She said, “Yes you would. You’d just have to go into the park for a different reason. You could go in and pass out bag lunches.” Then she said, “Christians need to remember that, given God’s mission, they exist for the city; the city doesn’t exist for them.” Ouch!
Nicole understands rightly the gospel’s demand for this unfashionable mindset, because the gospel is the story of God sacrificing himself for others.
So, as I’ve mentioned before, to all of those who are willing to change and serve and grow and be stretched and lose it all for the sake of Christ, I applaud you–more importantly, God applauds you. To those who, like their Savior, are ready to take up their cross and “go outside the camp”–who understand that it’s better to give than to receive, to be self-sacrificial rather than self-serving, to look out for the interests of others before your own interests, to live life going to the back instead getting to the front–we need you!
God is clearly up to something big. Don’t miss out. Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from this great adventure. To those who move forward with us, we will move ahead together–side by side, back to back!
Pressing on and straining forward for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom,