Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ready to Negotiate

If you've ever sold a house, you know that negotiations can be tedious and stressful. Am I willing to leave the refrigerator? Would I rather replace the A/C unit or drop what I'm asking by $5,000? What's my rock bottom price if we can close at the end of the month? What you often find is that everything is negotiable. To the Christian who is seeking to live faithfully, this is almost true. In my opinion, everything is negotiable but the gospel.

When a person comes to faith in Christ, what he/she finds is that it is not just a message that saves (and it is that), but is also a life (Christ's) to be lived. The gospel becomes the grid through which everything is seen and evaluated. By the power of the Spirit and the revelation of God in his Word, it searches out sinful thought patterns, changes attitudes, and redeems broken relationships. It illuminates darkness, not just in the surrounding world, but in the deep recesses of one's own heart. Jesus becomes, not simply a mercenary of forgiveness, but Lord of everything. He calls us to commit ourselves to his purposes, and his is servanthood and the way of the cross. I've found myself under more conviction lately to be about Christ's kingdom and not about my own. This means continually examining my own heart and way of life to ensure my priorities align with his. All else- my own preferences- are negotiable. This means the place I live, how comfortable I am, the way I order my life, how and when I interact with others- do all these honor him?

The apostle Paul functioned this way- never sacrificing the gospel message in spoken truth or in the way he lived, but instead said,

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings" (1 Cor 9:19-23, ESV).

This text has been used in different contexts- mainly for evangelism- but do you see the powerful effects of the gospel on his own life? All he does is oriented by his commitment to it. He does not sacrifice the message, but those things that are of secondary consequence become negotiable. What I've been asking of my own life, I ask of yours: What would change if the gospel was the priority over all else- if it shaped the way you approached every moment of the day? Would it be your schedule? The time you spend with your family or at work? Or what about the resources/time you give to support ministry or missions? Would you live in a different house, or maybe a different state/country? Would you begin to see those casual relationships you have as God-ordained privileges of eternal consequence? What does your "me time" consist of? Does it glorify God? How important is comfort? Or the opinions of others?

I need my heart exposed by the Gospel, and the power of Christ to enable me to live faithfully for His glory. No regrets. No wasted time. No wasted opportunities. All Christ- everything else is negotiable.