Daily Devotionals

The Heart of the Gospel

Pastor Daniel Bramlett

The idea of the Church has always been one for all and all for one…and the One being Jesus. But we seem to be drifting from that one good idea. One reason the world is rejecting the Gospel is because of the fractured behavior of the Church. We are so different and in today’s economy we’ve learned to celebrate our differences. I say it’s high time we learn to celebrate our sameness! The Gospel has one central message: God came to us so we could join Him. He makes it possible for us to live the life we are created to live. That said, it seems like we celebrate everything except this fact. We talk about our buildings, our fun ministries, our good preachers, our culture and style…everything except Jesus and His work for us. I mean, Jesus gets mentioned a lot, but rarely is He the fixture. Listen Church, if Jesus isn’t the main thing, He isn’t anything. 

Before you get too defensive, please hear me out. I’m not trying to make anyone upset. My goal is always for us to take steps toward each other. I say hard, truthful things to help people understand the depth of what is happening. I’m not saying you don’t love Jesus. I am saying the message we send to those on the outside looking in is that we love Jesus plus a lot of other things. That message doesn’t compute. We say God is the Creator of the Universe; that He made it out of nothing. We say He designs our bodies after His own image. And then we talk about all the reasons we are proud of our buildings, as if we too are creators. We say Jesus is the only Way to God, but then we talk about this preacher and that teacher; how one is too long and the other too trendy. We say the cross is the most beautiful work of art the Gospel has ever produced, but then we fill our buildings with every other kind of decoration imaginable. But these aren’t the real stickers. These are really peripheral. The punch comes when we say God is the only Source of Truth and then we spend our days doing everything other than what He says we should do. If our lives are living contradictions, why should the outside world ever listen to the words we say?

The heart of the Gospel has always been us putting ourselves in a position to hear from and respond to God. We never want to be heard saying “Leave me alone while I live out the life God’s assigned me!” That’s how we get in places that are so radically different than the rest of the Body around us. God will always lead us according to His Word and character. That means that if you are listening to Him, you will be living in coordination with everyone else in the world who is listening to Him. He will never lead you to be at odds with the rest of us. If you find yourself constantly battling those around you, it may be because you’ve adopted a life plan that is contrary to and not consistent with God’s design. That sounds anti-independent because it is. Rogue characters don’t last in the Kingdom. Lone Rangers aren’t a part of God’s script. We are a people who depend on Him and each other all day long. To live out God’s assignment means we commit to leaning on each other as we follow Him together. 

What do you think about this? These aren’t my ideas. The Church has been submitting to this for centuries. Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 12, the Church is like the human body, lots of parts but all one organism. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body…we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” He goes on to say no part can say to another “I don’t need you.” Every part is absolutely necessary. The stronger parts can’t push the weaker parts around. “God has composed the Body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the Body.” We can put any name we want on the building, but if we are focusing on Jesus, we are really just the Church. We can give any title we want to the members of the Body, but if we are all walking with Jesus, we are really just the Body of Christ. 

Covid has given the enemy opportunity to individualize the Church. Many of the members of the Body have isolated themselves. They’re still praying and reading and giving, but they are doing it all on their own. No contact necessary. This is dangerous territory. That kind of isolation will lead to the weird things we tend to celebrate about our different brands of Church. And yes, inside the Church, I’m calling anything weird that doesn’t not point people to Jesus. Isolation will almost never lead to a wholehearted devotion to Jesus. 

I love the Church deeply. I feel pretty safe here. Jesus loved the Church enough to die for it. If we remove all of the visible signs and perks, how would you rate your love for the Church, the Body of Christ followers God has placed around you? If it’s anything less than a 10 out of 10, what are you going to do to raise the bar in your own heart and in the hearts and minds of those around you?

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