Caught not taught: Gospel awareness

Understanding the gospel is key to having gospel awareness. The Life Conversation Guide used by the North American Mission Board is a great resource that plainly and clearly explains the gospel. Starting at God’s purpose in design and ending with the promise of the gospel, we are reminded that there is hope amid our brokenness.

The goal of gospel awareness

Gospel awareness is the intentional understanding of how the gospel intersects self and life. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the foundation of gospel awareness. The gospel does not just save us; the gospel is saving us. The goal of gospel awareness is to cultivate a reliance on the gospel that protects us from being performance driven, self-reliant, and captivated by idols.

Gospel awareness is impossible apart from cultivating God-awareness

Growing up on a dairy farm was a unique life only a handful of people are blessed to experience. My dad named almost every cow we owned. Their names would express an outward characteristic (Blaze) or a personality (Crazy). I remember watching with amazement cows walking up to my dad as he called their names. Not only did he know their names, but they knew his voice. Only through time spent with cows was this feat possible.

Gospel awareness becomes something caught when we spend time with God, learning who He is and obeying His voice. Having God-awareness requires we cultivate habits in our life where spending time with God in His Word is as natural and consistent as breathing air. My gospel-awareness is directly connected to my devotional life as I pursue an intimate relationship with Christ, and am renewed daily with the beauty and wonder of the gospel.

Question to consider:

Habits are inescapable, the question is, are your habits serving your well or serving you poorly as you grow in gospel awareness?

Gospel awareness will be manifested in healthy self-awareness.

Self-awareness is defined as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires. Throughout the early years of my church first church planting experience, I was plagued with a pervasive lack of self-awareness. I demonstrated leadership actions that were neither shepherding nor Christ-like. Blind to how others perceived my leadership and life, I was incredibly emotionally immature.

Gospel awareness is caught when our spiritual maturity manifests itself in emotional maturity. We grow in our self-awareness and refuse to lead and act in a way that is contrary to the gospel. When our motives are driven by fear, anxiety and anger, we leave a wake of hurt people and broken relationships. Gospel awareness calls us to evaluate our motive and leads us to deal with our emotions in view of the finished work of Christ.

Question to consider:

Authentic accountability is essential to self-awareness. Who has permission to adjust your self-perception and bring gospel awareness to your life?

Gospel awareness will guard against finding our identity in performance.

Paul Tripp writes in Dangerous Calling, “Ministry is not our identity, it is our calling.” For many pastors, myself included, this is an all too real battle. If your ministry is your identity and not your calling, as ministry goes will be as you go. When ministry is good, you will be good, when ministry is bad, you will be bad. As you well know, this is a miserable way to live; gospel awareness points us to a better life.

Gospel awareness is caught when our performance no longer defines us; Christ defines us. Through our God-awareness and self-awareness we are reminded that even as broken and mistake prone as we are, we are loved with a fierce and forever love because of Christ. The gospel points us to the perfectly righteous performance of Christ on the cross; we no longer are driven by failure, approval, or expectations. We are motivated to action because we are approved, accepted, and gloriously adopted. Gospel awareness keeps us from living a miserable performance driven life and calls to the joy of living a God-glorifying life.

Question to consider:

If your greatest disappointments reveal misplaced affections and identity in your life; where are you currently getting your identity?

Published March 3, 2017