“Repent and believe in the gospel, Jesus says. Turn around and believe that the good news that we are loved is better than we ever dared hope, and that to believe in that good news, to live out of it and toward it, to be in love with that good news, is of all glad things in this world the gladdest thing of all.”
Paul Tripp opens his brilliant book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands with this question: “What is the best news you can imagine?” Would it be that you got a prestigious promotion? That the person of your dreams reciprocated your feelings? That a wealthy relative left you everything? What would make your life worth living?
In direct contrast to my typical alleged Pollyanna syndrome, ponder how that great news could turn dark. Given enough time, the promotion would become old hat, and you’d have hefty problems to deal with and a never-ending line of work waiting for you when you returned from the weekend (assuming you could leave the office at all). A constant barrage of texts screaming for your attention would interrupt every significant family memory, business requiring your urgent concern. Spouses will sin against you. Riches can create a hollowness of soul. Anything you might cling to as the best news ever today will ultimately let you down—if not tomorrow, then at some point. We become spiritually paranoid people, constantly aware of how our hopes can be thwarted, how the other shoe might drop.
This, friends, is one of the greatest mercies of the kingdom. (There’s Pollyanna. She was just hiding.) Any news we could receive short of heaven’s heart for us is busted through with holes, determined to sink our beings if we let them. Of course a loving God wouldn’t create us with an ability to be truly satisfied with anything that won’t last. We matter to Him so much more than that: our souls are so precious to the Lord that only He can fill them to brimming.
Now we’re ready for the good stuff, the best news ever that won’t fade or strangle or warp or empty. It’s always the cross.
Oh, yeah, there’s the whole Jesus thing again. Move on! Talk about something new!
Excuse my giggles. This “whole Jesus thing” is new with the sunrise. It pounds a fresh wave of holy on my tired heart with every breath. I require this old new thing over and over again. Apparently, so did Paul. While modern believers might think of the gospel as the entryway to the kingdom, something like kindergarten graduation as a prerequisite for first grade, in Romans 1, the apostle informs a church full of sturdy Christians whose “faith is proclaimed in all the world” that he is “eager to preach the gospel to [them] also.” Huh. Maybe we keep needing this old good news after all. Perhaps we don’t grow up out of it; could it be that we grow up into it?
What does this have to do with self-awareness? Fair question. Grab a notebook and a pencil, then jot down your responses to the following:
How have you been growing in preaching the gospel to yourself? Which areas of your thought life are being assaulted by the enemy without a covering of truth? How nimble are you becoming at applying the gospel? Where have your emotions taken over and crowded out the cross? How have you been fostering opportunities to appreciate the value and beauty of grace? Who do you have as warrior friends who can sing you back to Jesus in the dark? What new truths are you finding refuge in? How has the gospel been comforting and challenging you lately? What are you repenting of? Where are you seeing forward movement in your soul, evidence of the Spirit’s work in you?
The gospel is a diamond with a million unique facets. One of those facets is how it sits with you. We all hold the truth of Christ differently, learning and expanding as we go, the blazing colors melding and shifting, rotating in the light. Gospel agility increases as you treasure what Jesus has done for you as the best news you could possibly receive, never-changing, ever-growing. May it be so.
How might the gospel—the news that you’re far more sinful than you ever dared believe and far more loved than you ever dared hope—transform you from the inside out?