If you are a Christian, the Bible makes it clear that our number one purpose is to exalt God. This supersedes everything else. Getting a fair shake, having our say, receiving our full rights, even being safe and sound are all supposed to take a backseat to bringing glory to God. Unfortunately, too often we don’t live this way. Too often what we want and what we care about is more important than God. We don’t say it, but our actions show it. For instance, instead of gently ministering to someone who has wronged us, we want to see them get their due. Now, we aren’t going to seek revenge, for that wouldn’t be Christian, but we sure hope misfortune visits them. Ever thought this way? If you are human, you have. The problem with this line of thinking is it gets in the way of the Gospel.
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ – 1 Corinthians 9:12b, ESV
Paul was writing of the fact that he and his companions didn’t exercise certain rights when he was among the Corinthians because it would have gotten in the way of the Gospel of Christ. I want you to stop right there for a moment. When was the last time as a Church we asked the question, “Would what we are about to do get in the way of sharing the Gospel?” When was the last time your local congregation asked this? What about yourself? Can’t remember? Unfortunately, neither can I. We can be so full of ourselves that we forget the great importance of the Gospel and our mission as Christians to share it in a way that others around us understand it. Note that I didn’t say anything about forcing it down other people’s throats. I also didn’t say anything about the typical political hot button topics that seem to inflame us here in the West. I said the Gospel. When was the last time we thought about its priority in the scale of all the things we were doing, caring about, and arguing over? I can hear the crickets. They’re in my backyard, too.
It doesn’t matter what side of the predestination/freewill fence you sit on (or even if you’re sitting on the fence itself), because we have been given a command by Jesus to go and make disciples. As John Piper – a very staunch predestination pastor – put it, even if you are on the predestination side it’s not your role to play God and determine who you will and won’t share the Gospel with. Leave that to God and go share. The Gospel is to be the forefront of who we are and what we do. Yes, we encourage and affirm and edify the saints. Yes, we take care of the orphans and widows in our midst. Yes, we provide for the poor around us and serve those who need our help, regardless of religion or creed. But we do all things for the sake of the Gospel. Caring and ministering give us the opportunity to share. Even if we don’t get a chance to use actual words, we share through our actions. We are different because our God has changed us. We are to be a living testimony to the power of God to transform a sinner into a saint. And by being this living testimony we will hopefully be able to explain ourselves to those who want to know why we are different.
As you move into the weekend, do a self-examination. What habits or things about you get in the way of the Gospel? What pet peeves or personal causes turn people away from you such that they would not be willing to hear the Gospel from your lips? What can you do to correct these situations? What’s stopping you? Lift these issues and their remedies up in prayer. Let us be known for living out the Gospel fully, for sharing it freely and lovingly, and for exalting Christ before ourselves. Let us get out of the way of what’s the most important set of news we can share with the world around us: that Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save sinners like you, me, and everyone else who would want to be free from their sins.