As we dive deeper into “The Heart of the Gospel Series“, we have to press harder on some of the belief systems that run rampant in the South, and see if these beliefs can actually stand up to the truths we find actually in Scripture.
What I believe is one of the most common misconceptions in the South rarely tested by Scripture is the gospel of conformity, the notion that if we can conform ourselves to an established “higher standard of conduct and living” that we will in fact be saved, or at least God will be more pleased with us. We see this gospel take life in the church when preachers create sermons that only teach their congregation how to be better people and arm them with 5 specific actions to begin to be that person. We see this when other believers harshly judge non-Christians and even other Christians because they aren’t conforming to one of the 10 commandments, or another law from the Bible. We see this when Christians slowly become the most uninteresting people that you know, because they are unwilling to have relationships with those who don’t conform to their lifestyle, and they only take calculated risks for the Kingdom of God.
Thankfully, the Gospel of Jesus is the Gospel of Transformation. This Gospel says that I’m too messed up and broken to simply conform to laws or particular codes of conduct, and that I’m in need of a Savior who can justify me with God and who is the only one with the power to completely change my heart. In light of this trading my rags for Jesus’ righteousness, I am transformed so that I begin to desire what God desires – and that brings about fruit in my life.
Because I’m following Jesus, my heart begins to want the things that he wants. As Romans 8:10 says, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Paul also states in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose”
On the outside, shouldn’t we still look to conform our lives to that of Christ? Only if we do this in light of our faith in Jesus. We have to test our motivations for wanting change. Do I want to change my life for Christ ultimately so that I’m a better person that people like or admire? Or do I come to the feet of Jesus asking for change so that I may see his glory and understand his goodness? It is important for us to see difference between being transformed versus being conformed:
- Being Conformed–> Requires reliance and conformity to religion and rules, and produces judgment and guilt.
- Being Transformed –>Requires reliance on faith and grace, and produces acceptance and freedom
Spend some time today considering your faith for a minute. Are you continually harsh on yourself for not living up to a standard of living, but never find yourself going to the feet of Jesus? Are you making to-do lists and doing good without praying that Jesus would give you a new heart and a new love for people? If you find yourself gravitating to the gospel of conformity, take a minute and pray that Jesus would help you adhere to the only true Gospel that will give you freedom and hope.