The gospel is that I am forever, unconditionally loved by the Creator of the Universe who demonstrates this love for me in this: while I was still a sinner - curved in on myself, Jesus died for me (Romans 5:8).
In the middle of a time in our history when the noise sounds like my boys fighting over Legos, you might be like me and fall into the trap of living in one of two ways.
The first way that I generally live is that I live loud and bold.
The other way I generally live is the way of pacifism.
The truth is, I fall into these two ways of living every day.
Lord, I repent.
Friends, I repent.
Community, I repent.
World, I repent.
Church, I repent.
I find rest and energy in this promise: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst (1 Timothy 1:15).
The gospel is altogether different. The gospel is not about being right or becoming the loudest and most dominant voice on an issue. It’s also not an invitation to be passive - a free pass or get out of jail free card direct to a “better place” (heaven). The gospel is an alternative way of living to what I am experiencing in our world, today.
As songwriter Matt Maher sings, “where sin runs deep, Your grace is more; where grace is found is where You are; and where You are, I am free, holiness is Christ in me” (Lord, I Need You, Matt Maher). That’s the gospel. That’s the third way of living that I need to recenter myself on every moment of every day.
Jesus said it best Himself that in this world I will have trouble… (John 16:33a). There is no doubt that the brokenness of the world breaks my heart. And, yet Jesus says that He has overcome the world (John 16:33b)
The gospel frees me to choose how best to love others as I have been loved by Jesus.
So, when I feel that I need to be loud and bold, the gospel reminds me that I am loved so much that I don’t need to prove anything to anybody. Indeed, “Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word” (Hebrews 12:24). Or, as the songwriter puts it, “I’m a child of God, yes I am!” (Who You Say I Am, Hillsong Worship). Jesus frees me from the need to win anything.
When I want to be passive, the gospel says that I am free in Jesus to love others as I have been loved. There is no judgment in love. Jesus’ love compels me to choose how best to love others because Jesus died for all and therefore all have died. And, he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
I am called to love all people sincerely, hate evil, cling to good, be devoted to others in love, honor others above myself, never lack in zeal, but serve the Lord with passion, be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer; to share with everybody in need and most of all - practice hospitality (Romans 12:9-15). It’s interesting that hospitality has been recently explained to me as putting ourselves aside in the interest of others.
That’s another blog post.
So as our world and culture tries to out yell each other, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Lord, help me keep my eyes on Jesus. It’s only in Him I am able to respond by loving others just as I have been loved (John 13:34) and I have the ability to not seek my own good but always the good of others.
So that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:33).
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor. Tim studied sociology, psychology, and theology prior to earning his M.Div at Concordia Seminary - St. Louis. He has also is a candidate for an Ed.D (ABD) in Transformational Leadership. He is married to Beth and they have three young children. Together, they enjoy exploring the outdoors, experiencing culture, and pizza and movie nights.