One of the Christian platitudes that I find most irritating is “God will not give you more than you can handle.” Try telling that to Gideon and the 300 men with him as they moved toward a battle with the entire Midian army. Try telling that to Job who, in addition to experiencing the loss of health, wealth and family, had to endure the empty and sometimes harsh words of his so-called friends.
I have nearly completed my sixth decade of life, nearly all of it as a believer, yet I find myself trying to earn the approval of both God and the people around me. I need to transition from trying to earn God’s approval to responding to the love and acceptance that I already have. Rather than an initiator, I need to be a responder.
It is right to want more people sitting under the preaching of the gospel. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to learn from others. But the danger is that we can lose focus on what real spiritual growth looks like and we lose sight of who causes that growth.
Rather than getting all worked up about your Christian brother who has a different idea about what the government should or should not be doing, why not offer to pray with him.
I must confess that I am sometimes intimidated about praying in a church gathering such as a prayer meeting or small group. My brain is not wired to call up Old Testament images about restoring what the locusts have eaten or calling down mighty angels. These references make those adept at praying sound so . . . so . . . spiritual and powerful.
In the internet age, civility seems to be the primary casualty. It is so easy to vent our judgment and hostility to those with whom we don’t agree. Unfortunately, those in the church sometimes share in this trollish behavior. There have been times when I have read social media posts and cringed at the lack of sensitivity to those who don’t share our beliefs.
As I thought about this, I thought that I should use my Bible software to do a search of the word gospel in the New Testament to see how the gospel is described. Here is a list of things that I learned about the gospel from looking over the list along with a reference to where I found it. The list is not exhaustive; some of these appear in multiple places and I only list the reference to the first mention.
Question 15 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “By what sin did our first parents fall from their original condition?”