A young friend shared with me recently that attending worship, rather than being encouraging, had a depressing effect because the services focused so much on how to be a better person.
We have probably all been served, at one time or another, a dose of do-this-good-thing-and-live. Sadly, the purveyors of this bitter and unsatisfying draught are often well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ, people motivated by love, who sincerely desire good things for us. Sadly, these would-be encouragers fail to see that how-to-be-happy advice, because it directs us to something other than Christ, often has the opposite effect, that of fostering spiritual depression.
Just as no To-Do list will ever save us, so no To-Do list will ever sanctify us or make us better, happier people. God himself must save us - in Jesus, He does just that! Likewise, God himself must sanctify us, through the power of his Holy Spirit.
In my Romans study this week, I read: "Sanctification does not make us aware of our goodness, but our sinful ways. We cannot become more Christlike by trying harder. Instead, we must depend on His [Jesus's] victory...[our struggle with sin] leads to deeper fellowship with Jesus as we lean on Him as the solution to brokenness."
We cannot become more Christlike by trying harder. This is the same truth my discouraged friend discovered.
The solution to spiritual deadness is new life in Christ. The solution to my need to be a better person is Christ's righteousness on my behalf.
So here we are back at the Gospel. Back to complete dependence on Christ.
When I am struggling, I do not need to hear how I can be a better person. I need to hear: "Run to Scripture and see how much your Father loves you!" I need to hear: "Pour out your heart to your Father in prayer. He is listening, and He will not turn you away. He will save you."
I do not need to hear "Do this list..." - but - "Jesus covers this, too."
The Gospel doesn't just save me - it keeps me. The Gospel is not only life for the spiritually dead - it is food for the living.
Another sweet sister summed up our situation in the church today this way: "We need the Gospel SO BADLY."
All I can say is: "Amen."
1 month ago