At the Gospel-Centered Life Conference this weekend, JD Greear spoke about how the gospel of Jesus engages the wider world.
We in the church communicate the gospel and authenticate it to the world, with God's help. We make it understandable (or at least try to).
But what does this look like? How do we do this?
I was surprised that JD gave specific examples. Reformed teaching tends to stay in the abstract, wanting to avoid creating new rules and trusting the hearers to make proper specific application. But JD's drilling down into specific examples really helped me.
One way we authenticate the gospel is through our generosity.
Now, when JD started talking about generosity, I thought he was going to start telling stories about wealthy businessmen buying cars for single moms or about the young couples buying groceries for their neighbors. And I'm sure he could have gone down that road.
But instead, he reminded us of Paul in the Philippian jail. Unjustly accused and unfairly abused, Paul had every reason to long for escape. A midnight earthquake that knocked down walls and loosened chains was probably an answer to prayer. Paul could have left the jail and no one would have blamed him.
But before he could leave, Paul notices the jailer, getting ready to take his own life, overwhelmed by his failure to maintain the incarceration of his prisoners.
And Paul decided to stay in jail.
His jailer was overwhelmed by Paul's generosity. It's more than giving. It's suffering willingly that authenticates the gospel.
If we're going to overwhelm people with generosity, we need to move beyond the idea that generosity is all about giving. A joyful generosity that's willing to give up privilege and freedom radically reflects the gospel of Jesus, who sacrificed himself for us and for our salvation.
Where have you seen generosity linked with sacrifice?