Do you have a friend who only talks about him or herself? You go out to lunch and ask them a million questions to catch up. “How’s your family?” “How’s the new job?” “Have you learned anything new lately?” “What are you struggling with?”
You ask these questions because you love your friend! You are genuinely interested and want to be a part of their world. You admire them. You just love being around them because they are unique and lovely. You see parts of yourself in them and their story. They have strengths in areas that you are weak, and they have weaknesses where you’re strong.
Just when you’ve asked them all the questions you can think of, you wait for them to ask you about YOU! You wait…and wait…and wait…, and it never comes.
If you don’t have a friend like that, then you probably are a friend like that.
The basic, most fundamental problem with people is that we cannot get our minds off of ourselves. Like the force of gravity, we take everything and make it about us. We can’t see past the nose on our own face.
One of the results of this is that many people in America mistake the gospel for the American dream. At best, folks tend to see Jesus as a means for achieving their own goals of becoming affluent (prosperity gospel) or gaining emotional freedom (“power of positive thinking” gospel). While the gospel can lead to economic and emotional freedom, those things are not the goal of the gospel.
The goal of the gospel is to redeem all of the creation so that it can once again bring glory to God (not to people). This happens through the healing of sin in people. God cares much more about your holiness than your happiness because holiness leads to true, eternal, God glorifying happiness.
One of the problems with treating the gospel as as means to our own ends of economic and emotional freedom is that when we do that, we’re still making everything about us.
The entire point of the gospel is to get our minds off of ourselves!
If we remain in the mode of thinking that the gospel is all about us, it is evidence that we have yet to be free from the power of sin.
When the power of the gospel is alive and well inside of us, our world turn inside out and upside down. When the righteousness of God becomes a vibrant, living thing inside of our hearts and minds, we can get our minds off of ourselves and onto other people. By the grace of God, the needs and pains of other people around us become our burden. When Jesus gets ahold of us, we cannot help but stop living for ourselves and living for others.
This mode of living, or, what I like to call “heart posture”, means freedom.