Posted by: duncandrews | June 8, 2011

The Christian gospel is not about you, but it is for you

On Sunday we looked at another passage from Paul’s remarkable letter to the Colossian church – Col 1:21-23, running off the back of the amazing depiction of Jesus in 1:15-20. Here’s a snippet of my sermon:

The Christian message is not primarily about me. It’s not about how I can be a better person, how I can fulfil my potential, how I need to recognise my inner worth so I can live an authentic life. The Christian message is about God and his plans for the whole world, and how Jesus stands right at the centre of them. It’s about his majesty, his power, his worthiness, his glory. Jesus is lord – not me. I was created by him and for him and I wait for the day when his lordship will be universally acknowledged and every knee will bow to him.

And we need to be careful, don’t we, of reducing Christianity to being something that is, in the end, all about us. We can be tempted to ‘package’ the gospel as basically a self-help movement rather than a Jesus movement. We can treat church like a place to meet our needs rather than a gathering where we can love and serve Jesus and his body. We need to hear the rebuke of Colossians 1:15-20: life is not about us – it’s about Jesus.

And yet, if we were to stop at verse 20, we’d be making a huge mistake. Jesus is Lord; the gospel is about him and not us. But – and here’s why that gospel is such good news – because while the gospel not about us, it is for us. The Christian claim is that as we believe and live out this gospel about Jesus, as we turn our eyes away from ourselves and fix them on him, we actually see ourselves properly.

In giving up ourselves for Him, we gain ourselves. In losing ourselves for Him, we find ourselves. Our deepest longings begin to be met. We begin to live life as it was meant to be lived, because we live it in right relationship with Jesus, the one who gave it to us in the first place.

 

And from later on, on self-esteem (I talked about Oprah and the culture of self-esteem in the intro):

And it’s here that we can start to see just how much greater this gospel is than the gospels of our culture we started with. For the Oprah culture, your significance lies in your own worthiness, in the belief that you are great, you are awesome. And so we spend huge amounts of energy trying to bolster our self-esteem, to convince ourselves that we deserve every good thing because, as L’Oreal tells us, ‘we’re worth it’.

But this gospel, the gospel about Jesus, won’t buy into that; it knows humanity too well, it knows you too well, to simply want to bolster your self esteem. It does something far more wonderful than that. In the face of all our contradictions and failings and hurts and sins, the Christian gospel speaks a word of immeasurable depth and comfort.

You are significant. But not because of your intrinsic worthiness. You are significant because of God’s love for you, personally. He has esteemed you, to reconcile you to himself at unimaginable cost to himself. He esteems you, you little speck of dust with all your insecurities and burdens, with all your addictions, and failures and sins. He esteems to take your broken life and remake it, to present you holy and blameless before him on the last day. He esteems to give you a wonderful future.

And so we don’t have self-esteem; we have God’s esteem. We have His unfailing love, that is secure because it’s anchored in the cross. And that’s so much more liberating and empowering than the desperate inward-looking search for significance and worth of our culture. The answer to our longings for significance and worth is not to look inside ourselves. It is to look to Jesus.

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Responses

  1. […] of Paul to a small, unimpressive group of Jesus’ people in Colossae. I’ve posted before on this little gem, but thought I’d gather some more thoughts together flowing out of this […]


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