If our tone is about preserving people’s high opinions of themselves we can be sure we are do not have a very high opinion of the gospel. The gospel does not congratulate but rather confront—and then convert!

3- The Story is Not About Ultimately About Us Anyway

One of my favorite preachers said that Americans struggle with a “Where’s Waldo” approach to the Bible. Like when we look at a picture for that smiling, stripped sweater-wearing guy, we are always looking for ourselves in the passage. The trouble is, the Bible in general, and the gospel in particular is not ultimately about us. The gospel is about God. The story unfolds of God taking the initiative to insert himself into human history in order to rescue rebels like us from what we justly deserve. It is a story of divine love, divine mercy, divine sacrifice, and divine grace. The gospel glorifies God before it does anything else.

This is why it is counterintuitive to edit or invert the content of the gospel. It is inclined toward God, accomplished by God, and magnifies God. To pump ourselves up as the point of the gospel is to give the gospel a flat tire. It’s about God.

4- The Gospel is Offensive But You Don’t Have to Be

Since the content of the gospel is unashamedly offensive (Rom. 1:16) we have to keep in mind that we don’t by necessarily have to be offensive ourselves. In other words, the gospel is offensive because it unseats self from the throne of the heart and establishes God as King. If we have God reigning on the thrones of our hearts we will not be quick to lash out or lack sensitivity in our witness. We come to unbelievers with the sensitivity and understanding that we too have been hungry and hurting from the hangover and lies of sin. We have been wooed by the hiss of the serpent. We know what it is like (Eph. 2:1–3). Therefore, we can identify. We get it. We reach out in truth and love.

George Costanza made it up and it cost him. He ended up having to return the contributions. When we start editing the gospel for fear of offense we lose everything. Without the gospel we have no message, no mission, and no church. We are left twiddling our comfortable little thumbs promoting the Human Fund.

 

Erik Raymond is pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He and his wife, Christie, have six children. You can follow Erik on Twitter @erikraymond and read his blog at ordinarypastor.com.