When understanding what it means to be gospel-centered you start to get a picture of how the gospel effects every inch of your life. We learn that the gospel is not:
• Simply an idea to talk about
• Not just something we hit the “like button” on.
• Not about changing behavior without first changing your heart.
In fact, when we take a closer look at the Story of God we see that the gospel is so powerful that it changes our entire life by giving us a new identity in Christ. Who We Are and How We Live is completely shaped by Who God is and What He Has Done.
Practically, the result is that from this point forward, we will be leading our church family NOT primarily based upon a prescribed set of actions (come to church, get involved in a missional community, serve in a church ministry), but instead based upon our core Gospel Identities: who we are because of who He is and what He has done.
Our motivation for what we do must come out of who He is and what He has done or we will be leading people into lives that are not grounded upon, lived and walking in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel Message leads to Gospel Motivation to live out our new Gospel Identities in our everyday lives.
What are these Gospel Identities we bind together in as the church?
Every human being is designed to belong. God created us in family and for family. We are changed for and cared for in our family. No one “arrives” here apart from a family, fractured and broken as it may be. And everyone seeks a group of people to belong to and with. In the gospel, we are adopted by a perfect Father as sons—fully accepted and loved. Our “belonging” is based on His work, not ours, and therefore cannot change. We don’t do good works to BE justified, we do them because we ARE justified (John 1:11-13). We are loved by our Father because of what Christ has done. When we fail to believe the Gospel, we try to find approval through connection to a church, a community, a group, or religious activities with a group of like-minded religious people. We prop them up as functional saviors who affirm and accept us; yet when they fail us, we are devastated. And it is certain that every one of them will fail to deliver the love and acceptance that the Heavenly Father gives.
God has always desired a people—an earthly family who would live in such a way that the world would know what He is like. Jesus said that those who live in His ways and obey His Father are truly His family. Through believing Jesus and His Gospel, God supernaturally placed us in His family in such a way that, whether we know it or not, we are now brothers and sisters with each other. As family we must grow in seeing it as our obligation to personally care for the needs of one another—both physically and spiritually. We disciple, nurture, and hold each other accountable to live with one another, as God sets forth in His Word. And ultimately our family is to be a blessing beyond itself out to those who are trying to “belong” somewhere else. Thus, God brought us INTO His family through Jesus SO THAT we could share our family with others.
Every human being is designed to fulfill a mission. We are all living FOR something/someone, and are on mission to attain what we’re living for. We are searching for a purpose to justify our existence. In the gospel, we are brought into the ONLY mission that will succeed—the mission of Jesus. The gospel transforms us into God’s missionaries—His ambassadors who have been reconciled AND sent out to be agents of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-21; John 20:21). In the gospel, we have been justified through Jesus fulfilling HIS mission and purpose and we JOIN HIM on the mission that is guaranteed to succeed. Our proof is the resurrection—nothing could stop him, not even sin or death. Apart from the gospel, every other mission is guaranteed to fail because it will not overcome sin and death.
God sent his Son, Jesus, to Earth to take on human form and live within the culture. He worked, ate, and interacted among the people, living in such a way that those around Him could see and experience what God is truly like. Jesus came so that all people, places, and things could be restored to a right relationship with God. In the same way, we believe we are missionaries sent into our culture to restore all things to God through Jesus. While we must live this out through a display of love (like Jesus did), the gospel is a message and therefore mission only takes place as we share the good news with people like Jesus did (John 1:14; 20:21; Colossians1:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21).
We are servants of Jesus who serve Him by serving others. Fully God and fully human, Jesus took onthe posture of a servant. He gave His life, even unto death, so that others could experiencesalvation, peace, and restoration. Jesus said “I am among you as one who serves...” All those whofollow Jesus are called to serve in the same humility. For us, this means joyfully submitting to Jesusas Lord, to the leaders He has placed over us and each other, as we also serve whomever God bringsinto our lives. We do whatever He leads us to do (Matthew 20:25-28; 25:31-46; John 13:1-17,Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 2:16).