Most of the girl’s soccer team were crammed into the van and one of the moms was driving them to a field in a neighbouring town. The radio was playing in the background but then came the new Taylor Swift song. The girl riding shotgun turned the music up to the eleven and one of the girls in the back yelled ‘that’s my jam!’ All the girls starting singing along and bobbing their heads to the music. Even mom couldn’t help but bopping on and singing along to the hooky song.
I cried out ‘that’s my jam’ a few days ago and I wasn’t listening to music.
I love to seek out churches on-line. Some that are looking for pastors and some that aren’t. I want to find out what they believe, if it’s ever even mentioned on their page. I want to find out what books they’re reading. I’m curious about where the pastors have gone to school. And occasionally I’ll listen to a sermon. The other day I was listening to one based on Ephesians 4:1-16 and that is a favourite text of mine when I think of the church body. And I was digging it and can’t remember if I shouted it out or if I felt it deeply within my soul, but there was the heartcry ‘that’s my jam!’ This pastor and I are brothers from different mothers…but we have the same Father.
He spoke boldly about the gospel and one of the things he said really resonated with me. He said a lot of churches rally around one thing. Let me comment on that statement.
There are some churches that are all about the music. How good the service was is based on something relating to the music. Whether someone sang that I really enjoy. Whether someone played a really wicked (and I use that word in the common vernacular) guitar solo. It was a good service if they sang my favourite song (back to ‘that’s my jam’). And the youngins and the seasoned can both be guilty of wanting their song or their style.
Some churches are all about the age. We are a twenty-something congregation with jeans, tees, and Doc Martins or whatever other shoe is hip. (I like Doc Martins and I don’t know if they’re hip or not…I just like them.) We are a sixty-something congregation that wear dresses and suits and ties. We’re about the clothes.
We may rally around raising money for a ministry or a new pastor or a particular program that our church is supporting or is engaged in. Churches can rally around a specific version of the Bible (I once heard a church service close with someone praying, ‘thank you Lord for this specific version of the Bible’). My daughters even picked it up.
And some of these things aren’t bad in and of themselves. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is what we’re to be rallying around.
 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV)
It’s of first importance. The gospel is of first importance. And if we have people in our pews that are muddy on the gospel but very clear on other things, less important things….something is very wrong in church world.
I believe that some churches don’t rally around the gospel because they don’t know what the gospel is or they’ve misunderstood it to be less than it really it. The gospel is everything. It’s everything.
God. Man. Christ. Response. Repent and believe. That’s my short form. God is holy. Man is sinful. We deserve God’s wrath. Christ came, fully God, fully man, perfect life, sinners death…burial, resurrection, ascension. Jesus in my place. You need to respond. Repent (turn from your sins) and believe (turn to Christ). (Mark 1:15). For the theologians, J.I. Packer says the gospel in three words: ‘adoption through propitiation’. But that’s not all.
The gospel isn’t just for unbelievers…it’s for believers. Some believe that you are saved by the gospel but then the gospel’s work is done and then you pick up the ball. You work hard and try to do good and avoid doing bad. That’s not the gospel. The gospel that saved me is also the gospel that sanctifies me or changes me. Moving from death to life is just the starting point of the gospel. That less than a nano-second moment when a person moves from child of Satan to child of God is the starting place of the gospel having an impact. And that same gospel empowers us to live differently.
I’ve mentioned 1 Corinthians 8 before where the gang begged the apostle Paul to give. They were poor as church mice and they wanted to get in on the giving. That’s what the gospel does. That’s what grace does.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, (2 Corinthians 8:1 ESV)
The gospel imparts grace on us to live differently…to live Christianly…to live like Jesus…to live transformed lives.
Many believe that the gospel is just for unbelievers. Please, don’t shrink the gospel. The gospel is for unbelievers but it’s also so for believers. I so need the gospel. That’s my jam…and I hope it’s yours.