I’m reading Tullian’s book, Jesus+Nothing=Everything and really enjoying it. It draws you right in. Granted, I’m only 9% of the way through it on my Kindle, but it’s very good. He makes this observation early on,
Through my pain, I was being convinced all over again that the power of the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before.
In my own life I’ve discovered that if I leave the gospel behind, something else fills the void and that something, no matter how good in and of itself, begins to function as an idol. When the gospel gets replaced by an idol, my heart grows cold and hard over time.
Here are a few things I’ve allowed to take the place of the gospel that the Lord has shown me:
My hermeneutic and theology. There was a time not too long ago when I was more concerned that someone embrace my theology and hermeneutic than I was that they embrace and are growing in the gospel and their love for Jesus. It was more important to me that they agree with me on secondary theological issues because I needed to be right and my pride demanded that others agree with me. The ongoing relevance and power of the gospel to fuel my life and shape my theology was never given a second thought. On some level, the ongoing relevance of the gospel had become unimportant.
I also talked a lot about the new heart and change. These are wonderful and good truths that need to be talked about and understood, but with no mention of the ongoing relevance and power of the gospel for true change in sanctification, there is always the danger of them being reduced to graceless moralistic demands that must then be policed and managed in one another. Apart from a gospel-enriched environment, demands for change that only the gospel can bring, become heavy burdens that we place on each other’s backs (Matthew 23:4) and we can become performance taskmasters.
The good news of the gospel is that because of grace, Jesus’ yoke is an easy one and His burden is light. The gospel doesn’t weigh me down. It frees me to love and serve Him and others (Galatians 5:1). Gospel freedom needs protecting (Galatians 2:5) because if I lose sight of the ongoing relevance of the gospel, something else will fill that void and if something else stands where only the gospel should stand, I lose the freedom I have in Jesus to serve Him with gladness and joy.