Thursday, December 30, 2010
This study changed my life. I went through it for the first time last year in a women's study. The study, published by World Harvest Mission, consists of 36 lessons divided into 6 units. The topics include an introduction to the Gospel, enemies of the Gospel, believing the Gospel, the power of the Gospel, the fruit of the Gospel, and the Gospel in relationships. As you can see, it's all about the Gospel.
I love how it starts--with a reminder that the Gospel is far greater than you can imagine, and you are far worse than you think. Yes, this is actually good news because God's spirit is at work in our weakness and God's kingdom is more wonderful than imaginable.
After going through the first few lessons, I wanted to make my own version of the Biggest Loser t-shirt which instead would say "The Biggest Sinner"--because part of my transformation started in seeing myself first as the needy sinner rather than blaming others first, justifying myself, or seeing other people's sins as greater than my own. When I acknowledge my sin first, this produces humility and dependence on what Jesus has done for me in the Gospel. But that's not the whole story. I'm also a saint, and God smiles at me and sees my sin through the blood of Jesus. Thankfully, I am not defined by my sin. I am slowly learning what it means to be first created in God's image and also starting to understand my true identity in Christ.
Here's something else that impacted me. When I realize the depth of my struggle with sin and idolatry and when my awareness of God's holiness grows, the cross gets bigger and bigger in my life. But when I pretend and perform and act like I can live the Christian life on my own and that I'm doing pretty well compared to my neighbor, then the cross shrinks and there is no true joy, love, or peace left in my life. This is the sad direction I was going even as I was doing all the right things like going to church, participating in Bible Studies, and living what appeared to be a good Christian life. By God's grace, I am now learning that not only did I need the Gospel the first day that I entered the kingdom of God, but I need it every day and every moment to live in the kingdom of God. I can never outgrow the Gospel. And that is truly Good News!