I understand why a gospel-centered life might seem dull from the outside looking in on Christianity. If we think of the gospel as the truth of God sending His son to die as atonement for our sins and then think of how God is often depicted, it makes sense that people wouldn’t want it. We as Christians tend to paint with our very own brushes an image of God as an angry old man who hates fun and who only does favors for people who follow His rules. What’s worse, this is such a prevalent idea of God that we often believe this lackluster, inaccurate portrayal ourselves.
Those of us who know the gospel, though, know it to be a story of love and freedom. Paul got right to the heart of it when he wrote, “For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law– I stopped trying to meet all its requirements– so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20, NLT).
This whole thing with the law really used to confuse me, so I’ll explain it the best I can lest it confuse anyone else. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17), but Paul says we are released from the law in our new life with Jesus (Romans 7:6). I always wondered, if Jesus completed the law, why is it bad and how are we free from it?
The law binds us. It’s the rules passed down to Moses in a time when there was no lasting remedy for sin. It kept people on the straight and narrow, but the problem was that mere humans are incapable of living up to such high standards without fail, which is why there was a annual animal sacrifice when the high priest would enter the holy of holies. Then came Jesus, the perfect sacrifice. Through the salvation He offers, He makes up for our shortcomings. His endless grace completes what we lack in keeping the law. We don’t have to worry about not living up to the law because we have Jesus. Thus we are free from it because Jesus is our salvation, not the law, and we are no longer bound by what it says as we are freed by what Jesus has done for us and by what He tells us. Paul says the law condemns, but those of us who have accepted Jesus know that He does not condemn, He saves (John 3:17).
The gospel is not rules and policies. It is a Savior who loves us enough to free us from the burden of our imperfections and our sins. The old versions of us die, and we come alive in Christ, who resides in us. This is the gospel we are to center our lives around.
To live a gospel-centered life means that all we say and do is inspired by the gospel, revolves around the gospel, is traced back to the gospel. This keeps us focused on God, and it brings glory to Him. Paul said to do this, only he said it in a simpler, straightforward way. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NIV).
Not that it’s easy. That part about us being humans who fail, that’s still true. And that’s okay. Jesus’s salvation does not run out just because we do. Our inability to constantly live in the light of the gospel doesn’t make it less powerful or less true. Being a person who’s changed by the love of God doesn’t change the fact that you’re a person who is still subject to all the symptoms of being imperfect as all people are. We all take our eyes off the gospel, and God still loves us and still allows us to recalibrate, to re-center our lives around the gospel. His love for us always allows us to look for Him again when we lose sight of Him.
By Carrie Prevette