Monday, March 8, 2010

Are You Gospel-Shaped, or Just Religious?

3 ways to tell.

1. Your reaction when things fall apart.

Do you catch yourself saying, "God, why is this happening? I've done x, y, and z?" Do suffering, difficulty, and obstacles provoke "why?" questions predicated on your goodness or effort? You've been working so hard, reading your Bible, going to church, serving others . . . why would God let this happen to you now? If that's your line of thinking, it reveals you believe God owes you. And that's religion.

2. Your reaction to others.

Do you compare yourself, bad or good, against others? Do you belittle, mock, condescend, even if just internally? Do you resent others' successes? Do you celebrate others' failures? Do you really wish people would get their act together, or do you really wish people knew Jesus? Are you frequently annoyed, put out, irritated, embarrassed, or inconvenienced by others?

3. Your appraisal of Jesus.

Is he your greatest treasure? That's the number one indicator of gospel-conformity. You may know right off the bat if this is true or not. For some, it's true only sentimentally or religiously. You may think it's true ultimately, but your time, talents, words, emotions, and bank account testify differently.

These are all heart issues. Anybody can get the behavior right. The Pharisees certainly did, and most of them went to hell. But this isn't even about looking Pharisaical or legalistic or churchy. There's a lot of Christian hipsters out there in coffee shop churches who have no idea they're just religious.


Anonymous said...

excellent post Jared. I think your point about wishing people would get their act together instead of knowing Jesus is as good as any.

prin said...

Great post. I have to ask though, how do we know they went to hell? (Still a newbie..)

nhe said...

I love this post, but I think that most people I know (including the gospel-shaped folks) have difficulty leading a life free of being annoyed, put out, irritated, embarrassed, or inconvenienced (at least a little) on a daily basis.

I like all the other questions as a litmus test - but I think this question has more to do with not dying to self than with not being gospel-shaped.

Jared said...

Prin, good question.

The general reason is b/c they rejected Jesus as King.

Some textual reasons include Matthew 23:31-33 when Jesus indicates they won't escape condemnation, Matthew 23:13 which says they won't go into the kingdom, and Matthew 23:27-29 when he says they are dead inside.

The "brood of vipers" and "hypocrites" stuff factors in too.

Anonymous said...

I would never say for sure that someone went to hell. Only God knows. You never know what may have happened before the last breath. Look at the criminal on the cross next to Jesus. He went to paradise. Although odds are against it, Hitler, Stalin, and Dahmer, may be in heaven. Many will be there who we thought never had a shot, and many will not be there who we thought were a shoe in. Peace-
Mark M.

Jared said...

Mark, I suppose it's theoretically possible there was a mass revival among the hearts of the Pharisees toward Jesus on their deathbeds. I find it odd the Scriptures wouldn't record such a noteworthy occurrence. But you're right: it's possible.

Rob and Mary said...

Excellent, it reminds me of things taught by the founding Pastor of my church, Jack Miller.
He founded a course called Sonship, which turned into Gospel Transformation.
The root of sin is: Pride, Unbelief and Selfishness.
When we are not living entirely out of Christ and the gospel truth we live our lives dominated by sin. (Colossians 3)

Rob and Mary said...

If follow up, because I was so unclear. I think your post of questions is excellent, it points to red flags.
Dr. Miller used to challenge people to go a week without, gossiping, defending yourself or being critical of another. And the only way out of it is to realize you are more sinful than you can imagine and know that Christ's grace is bigger than you can imagine.
I'm probably still unclear.

Anonymous said...

Powerful, no nonsense approach to cutting to the chase.

Thank you!

Kevin said...

Regarding #1, what do we do with the book of Job? Do his questions and doubts indicate he wasn't as blameless and upright as verse 1:1 indicates?

Anonymous said...

in regards to Job, take a look at Elihu, who spoke for God and showed Job where his thinking his goodness was what kept him in right standing with God till it all fell apart and he questioned why me?

prin said...

Thanks for the explanation. :)

Kevin said...

Anonymous, Elihu claimed to speak for God. That doesn't mean he spoke for God. James offers Job as an example of perseverance (5:11).