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“We should be living to spread the Gospel.”
That sounds pretty right on, doesn’t it? Are you bobbing your head in agreement right now? If you are, stop. We don’t bob our heads until we do some critical thinking. To live for something means to make it your top priority in life. That’s a very serious concept. Clearly if we’re going to be talking about your top priority in life, we need to be talking about God. Do you see God mentioned in the above phrase? No, you don’t. This should cause some major alarm bells to be ringing in your head. God is not the Gospel.
God cares about your soul’s response to Him. What you’re doing with your soul is far more important than what you’re doing with your body. When we talk about “living to spread the Gospel”, a lot of physical actions come to mind—a lot of mingling and mixing with people who don’t already know the Gospel. “Spreading” isn’t something we do with our souls, it’s something we do with our lips or our bodies. We shine the light in this world by speaking truth and living it out in front of other people. Shining the light is all fine and well, but it’s still earth focused. If we’re going to talk about what we’re living for—what our all-consuming passion in life should be—then we can’t be focused on people or on this world. We have to be focused on God alone.
We should be living to please our Creators. What pleases Them? When we love Them obsessively. When asked what the most important command was in all of the Old Testament, Jesus answered:
“The most important one is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” (Mk. 12:29)
How do we love God? By obeying Him. Now at first, we don’t want to obey God. He tells us to do things we don’t want to do. We don’t like His priorities, His methods, or His plans for us. So if we don’t really want to obey God, and obeying God is the way that we love Him, and loving Him is the way that we please Him, where do we start? Here is where many teachers will tell you to get off your duff and sign up to serve in some ministry. They’ll tell you to just start going through the motions of serving God even when you have a rotten heart attitude. Well, this is lousy advice. If these people really knew the Bible as well as they claim to, they would know that God hates hypocrisy. Empty gestures and a bunch of busywork don’t impress Him in the slightest. If you’re currently in a place where you know that you really don’t care very much about pleasing God, the last thing He wants is for you to get involved in ministry so you can go spreading your bad attitude around. God already has too many servants who grumble through their work, and He has plenty of others who are trying to command Him about. What He wants is servants who will be honest about where they’re at and open to Him changing them into who He wants them to be. If you hate witnessing, stop denying it, and stop forcing yourself to do it. If you honestly don’t care about the lost going to Hell, then admit it. If you think people are jerks, okay. Let’s start with the honest truth, because if we aren’t building on a foundation of honesty, then nothing we build will last.
What really pleases God is when His kids ask Him to make them all that He wants them to be. The day you realize you are a selfish toad who cares a whole lot more about pleasing yourself than you do about pleasing anyone else—well, that’s a day when you start making progress. There’s nothing pretty about being morally depraved, yet this is how we are all born and this is how we stay until God changes us. God wants us to invite Him to change us before He actually does. If you’re not there yet, be honest about it. Then ask God to get you there. Wherever you are currently at in your walk, the way to move forward is to first acknowledge where you are stuck and then ask God to take you somewhere better. It’s when we approach the subject of maturity with a humble “I’m a mess and I have no way of fixing myself” attitude that we really start to get somewhere. But when we’re busy chasing the wrong goals in life, we never get to this point.
Life isn’t about spreading the Gospel, it’s about pleasing God. Pleasing God is far too broad of a concept to be narrowed down to one specific ministry focus. True evangelists feel an intense internal fire to spread the Gospel all over the globe. This is why they’re always talking about it—because it’s their own personal calling. But if you find yourself cringing when these people start in with their zealous lectures on how we all need to reach out to the lost, then clearly you have not been called to be an evangelist. This is hardly a flaw. If the world was full of true evangelists, the world would be a very depressing place because there would be no one left to witness to. Evangelists get high off of sharing the Gospel. Non-evangelists can also get plenty of joy out of sharing their faith, but only when the Holy Spirit is motivating them to do so. When’s the last time you heard an evangelist urge you to wait for the Holy Spirit’s timing and not just rush in? When’s the last time you were told that it’s pretty arrogant to talk as if God needs our help to save people? Evangelists tend to have a real blind spot when it comes to humility and submission. They’re always talking as if some great catastrophe will occur if we don’t all witness 24/7. Many believe that God has entrusted the illumination of human souls to other bumbling humans—what a horrifying thought! Others think Jesus is trapped up in Heaven unable to return to earth until we humans get the Gospel message spread to every corner of the globe. Any teaching which puts humans in the spotlight or suggests that God is dependent on us in some way is total rubbish. God doesn’t need our help, and we won’t see the day that we control the dispersion of truth in this world. The Holy Spirit is the One who educates souls about who God is and what He wants from them. The Holy Spirit may or may not use you to be His mouthpiece to other humans. He might not have called you to be one of His Gospel spreaders, in which case you’ll be spreading alone, and that’s always a complete waste of time.
We need to not let righteous sounding phrases in the Church distract us from our true mission in life. We exist to please our Creators. We must let THEM—not our pastors, not our emotions, and not our need for other people’s approval—determine what form and shape our service to Them will take down here. When we get to Heaven, God isn’t going to grill us about how many times we quoted John 3:16 to someone. He’s going to tell us His assessment of our submission to Him. Was it partial or absolute? Did we only please Him when it was convenient for us or did we ask Him to move us past that selfish thinking and make us into the kinds of servants who would truly bless His heart? Were we content to settle for a minimal interest in Him or did we ask Him to align our priorities with His? We should not be living to spread the Gospel. We should be living to please God. His approval is all that matters.
Debunking the Great Guilt Trip: It’s Not Your Job to Save the World