jueves, 5 de junio de 2008

Hypocrisy and the Gospel?

Ok, I have to admit, I have been chewing on this for several days. I have been reading in Galations and was struck by what Paul writes in chapter 2. Probably like you, I often think of hypocrisy on terms of not being who I expect others to be, but I realized after reading that it goes further than that. The gospel is: Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross, was buried and rose again on the third day. He paid the penalty for what we have done (and will do) and is offering us forgiveness and eternal life in heaven with Him. It is a free gift of salvation from condemnation, an eternity in hell. It cannot be earned but it is by God's grace, His unmeritted favor, that we can enjoy this free gift. We preach this gospel with words, but do we live this gospel with our lives? That is the question that has been hounding me for the past week. Often, I think, the gospel we portray with our lives is works based. We do, do, do and serve, serve, serve, which in itself, with the correct motivation of course, is not bad. But I'm afraid that many times, my motivation for doing or serving is "to stay on God's good side" or "to look good to others watching". I know God does not have a good side or a bad side but my actions and attitudes sometimes do not show that. In Galations Paul talks about Peter having stood "aloof" from the gentiles because they were not circumcized. I often compare myself to others, as Peter must have done, and stand "aloof", thinking that I am better than they are, because I "do" and they "do not" or because I believe my way is better than their way. With all of our discussions, denominations and divisions, what are we telling the world about the gospel? It seems to me that we are preaching with our lives that salvation is earned. If we do things a certain way, or if we are part of a certain denomination, than we can be saved. If you are on the outside we will look down on you. I am not saying that doctrine should be compromised, but I am saying that we need to be careful where we draw our lines. We are living in the age of grace. That does not mean that I should live my life however I please so that "grace may abound" (Romans 6) but it does mean that the same grace that was bestowed on me, I should be showing to others. I've often wondered what it means to "grow in grace". Could it be that we need to learn to show others grace just as it is shown to us? I am not better than anyone else. I am not saved because I am a wonderful person. I am saved because God chose to show mercy and give me His unmeritted favor because of who He is. I would do well to live in that grace!!

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