When it comes right down to it the way we speak only goes so far. What stands between our words and the impact that they should have is our way of life. It's easy to say "You're my friend" but if we don't act in keeping with that statement it means very little, if anything at all. You can talk all day about encouragement, grace, mercy, love but if your actions aren't consistent with those words, nobody will hear you. As the saying goes, "I'm sorry I can't hear you, you're actions are too loud."
The concept of gospel momentum deals directly with our way of life as well. As we view the love of Christ towards us we see that his love changes not just how we see others and how we speak to them, it fundamentally changes how we serve them.
The Challenge of Gospel Advance
For many non-Christians the gospel is something that is held in contempt. One of the many reasons for their contempt is that they can't hear the message of the gospel. The words that we are speaking with our lives are too loud to overcome the words that we are trying to say from our mouths. Gospel advance is hindered because our lives convey a different message. We look nothing different than the world. We serve no differently than the word. As Jonathan Dodson explains we've created an "unbelievable gospel."
Paul saw that our lives, and the way we live them are critical to gospel advance. The way we live, namely the way we serve is critical to gospel momentum. His explanation of how they minister in 2 Corinthians 6:3 reveals everything.
“We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.
Verse 3 shows how gospel momentum changes the way we serve. We live in such a way that there are no obstacles to hearing the gospel. What Paul doesn't mean is that we change the message in such a way that it is palatable or lacking in any offense. What Paul does mean is that we live in such a way that all the barriers that exist to keeping someone from hearing the gospel are taken away.
Our work in the ministry is to remove the debris of life so that the only obstacle that would keep someone from the gospel is the offense of the gospel itself.
Paul further elaborates:
We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:3–10, ESV)
Everything that Paul includes in this list is a way of serving so that the gospel message gets to the heart. We suffer, we are afflicted, we face sleepless night, we learn, we are patient, we grow, we engage the paradox of the gospel all so that the gospel word gets unhindered access to the hearts of men and women.
Implications For How We Serve
Gospel momentum means we serve. And we do all we can to serve others so that the good news of Christ's love and service for us hits home. We clear the debris field that our selfish, sinful world has laid out in front of the gospel. We remove obstacles, be it physical, emotional, mental, even spiritual obstacles so that there is a pure and unhindered way in which the gospel can be heard. We serve.
Gospel momentum finds itself in reflecting and displaying the same catalytic event that occurred in our own lives. Namely Christ's suffering, death and resurrection on our behalf. This love generates a momentum that moves us forward to allow the catalyst of Christ's love to enter another heart. When this momentum reaches full force great movements of gospel advance occur.