It has been said that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand and deep enough the most intelligent theologian can devote his entire life to studying it and he will never exhaust it. This is the amazing truth of what Christ accomplished through his death and resurrection. The gospel is at the same time so simple and so deep and profound. Sometimes, I think we have reduced the gospel so much to two or three simple steps that we neglect how deep it is and how central it must be to the daily life of a Christian.
There is a tendency in American evangelicalism to think that once you have said a prayer, once you respond affirmatively to the gospel message, that you move on to deeper things than the gospel. It is as if we say, “been there, done that.” This is wrong thinking. The gospel, the cross, is the most important thing the world needs to hear and it is the most important thing Christians need to hear. We can never move past the gospel, for it is our all-in-all; it is our hope, our assurance, our power, and it is what sustains us.
We need to strive to live cross-centered lives. What do I mean by that? That every day we rejoice in the cross of Christ. When we are faced with decisions we look to the cross as our guide. When we succeed, we know it is the power of Christ at work within us. When we fall into sin, we look to the cross for forgiveness and justification. The work of Christ on that cross is to be at the center of everything we do. We must never “get over it” or move past it. If we think we can, then we do not understand the gospel properly.
One way we can live cross-centered lives is to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. That’s right, you need to hear the gospel every day. Read God’s word, take in His gospel, and preach the good news to yourself every day. When faced with a decision to sin, when tempted to disobey God, preach the gospel to yourself. Look to the cross and see the cost of sin for your savior! See how repulsive it is. See its consequences. When you do so, you can see that the world and your heart are often lying to you. The gospel brings life to our thought life by bringing the truth of Jesus Christ to bear on our situations.
What are the consequences if we lose sight of the cross? We see this all the time. When someone is unwilling to forgive, it is because they do not understand the depths of what Christ has accomplished on the cross. When someone is dominated by a sin, it is because his/her heart and mind do not understand the power of the cross. When we lose sight of the gospel we open ourselves to many, many dangers.
We must strive daily to live in light of what God through Jesus Christ has accomplished for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we strive to live cross-centered lives we come to the daily recognition of how deep the gospel is and how deep God’s love is. As the new year begins, may this be our vision as individuals and as a church - the cross of Christ.