Yesterday I challenged us to contemplate and consider the love of Christ for us. I argued that the deeper our degree of contemplation of Christ's love for us the greater a "gospel momentum" would be generated that would result in gospel advance. Paul's argument in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is the foundation for my "equation" for gospel advance.
The mistake would be however, to think that gospel momentum just moves us forward and moves us out without inherently changing anything within us. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Gospel momentum not only creates an outward advance of the gospel, but it creates an inward change in our reality and identity.
Paul brings up three specific changes that this gospel momentum creates with us. I'll spell out the first one today and then on Wednesday and Thursday share the other two.
Gospel Momentum Changes How We See
First, gospel momentum changes how we see one another. Paul says " From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh" (v. 16). The gospel has changed the way he sees other people. Specifically it changes the way we see other Christians. No longer do we judge them according to status, education, ethnicity, or any other dividing line that separates us. No, Paul argues, now we see other Christians for what we really are.
Particularly, we are "in Christ" as "new creations." What this means is that there is a fundamental relocation of our identity from being a son of Adam and a daughter of Eve to being a new person, a reborn person united with Christ. The new creation is a personal new creation as we are transformed into His image.
Imagine the culture of the church if we saw each other a new people, as sinners reconciled to God through Christ and existing in Christ because of his shed blood. This is exactly who we are. Reconciled.
We don't have our sins, our failures and our offenses counted against us any longer because we are right and restored to God himself. And this is true not only for me but for any one else who is "in Christ."
Implications of A New Vision
For the church, as a body, this speaks clearly against the way we divide, segregate and hold one another at arms length. Gospel momentum is killed the moment we begin setting up boundaries within our churches. It's one of the primary reasons I will never advocate for homogenous unit small groups, Sunday school classes or churches. We need the diversity ethnically, financially, socially, even generationally of one another. The body of Christ has many different parts, many different functions. We need each other.
No, young single "dude", you don't need a singles group to find ladies. You need a older, wiser, married man to speak into your life and show you the ropes so you can learn how to love, serve, and lay down your life for a bride. And no, retired empty-nester, you don't need to hang out with other retired empty-nesters and relive the glory days. You need to invest and give yourselves to the young families who have no clue what to do with a five year-old crazy person they call their son. You should step in and help them.
Furthermore, we must regard highly the fundamental value and worth of one another as "new creations." We need to stop tearing down, discriminating and objectively tabling our neighbors and need to show them the honor of being in Christ.
As Paul said in Romans 12, "Outdo one another in showing honor." The culture of our churches should be people tripping over one another to affirm, encourage and edify each other as new creations in Christ.
Where there is an esteeming of one another in love there is a great chance that gospel momentum is at work creating room for gospel advance.