It happened again. I made a mistake and went into “kick my own rear end” mode. It doesn’t matter what I did or how many times I might have made any mistake; I often find myself going into this mode. Over the past year or two, I’ve reflected on why this is and also have asked some people close to me about why I do this. The overwhelming response is because I enjoy it and need to stop it. I need to stop doing this because it dismisses the good news of the gospel and also undermines who I am in and through Christ.
As I reflect on doing this, I’m reminded of how Paul opens up his first epistle to the Corinthians. When Paul writes to the Corinthians, he doesn’t start out with the bad news of how much they suck and how messed up they are. Instead, he opens up his epistle by telling them they are God’s people. They belong to Christ. And then he gets to their issues. Scattered throughout 1 Corinthians are gospel reminders meant to help the Corinthians and us navigate their and our way back to the truth and to who they are now in Christ.
In one of the most amazing chapters in the whole Bible, in my opinion, Paul spends the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians 15 telling them about the gospel and how they are to stand in it and upon it. Then, he moves to tell them the most amazing thing in the whole Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Wait for just a second here. The Apostle Paul the one who has written all he has to this church tells them this? It almost seems too good to be true.
It took me awhile to notice this verse, and I’ve been reading the Bible since I first learned to read as a child. One day this verse hit me like a ton of bricks and changed my life in Christ. Paul is saying that because of the gospel in which we stand by grace, we can be who we are now in Christ. We can forget ourselves completely because of who we are in Christ. We are not who we used to be. And we if we’re growing in God’s grace, we will not remain stagnant, nor ever stay the same. Instead, by God’s grace, we will grow to be more like Jesus Christ daily.
What amazes me about Paul’s Words in 1 Corinthians 15:10 is the raw honesty of them. Here is the Apostle Paul one who has sought to help the Corinthians learn how to have biblical ethics, biblical morality, and biblical sexuality. They just don’t get it. In fact in 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Paul snaps out five military commands like a drill sergeant that they are to do to be a healthy church. If they do those things, the entire church will turn around. 1 Corinthians 15 is the only chapter in this epistle where their doctrine is explicitly corrected.
The gospel of Jesus Christ causes us to be a people we once were not. Through Christ, we are now as loved and as accepted as we can possibly be by Jesus Christ. In another epistle, the great Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The language that Paul uses here is that of union with Christ. Through Christ, we have been united with Him by faith in His death, burial, and resurrection. Through union with Christ, we have communion with Christ. This means that we have union and communion with Jesus Christ the rightful ruler of all Creation, the One who bled, died and rose for His people, and now intercedes for us. It is this Lord and Savior, Master, and Commander that now gives us such access to God that He summons us to come before His Throne (Hebrews 4:14-16). Simply put that’s an amazing undeserved mercy from God.
The most amazing news in the world is that God wants us at all. Even more amazing than that is how He has adopted us, called us His own, and even invites us to come boldly before the throne not of judgment but grace. And it’s because of this gospel that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” He knows that he is no longer his own. Paul, along with you and I as God’s children have been bought at the price of the bloody death and resurrection of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. The Lordship of Christ strips away what was of our former lives and now calls us to strip away any and all pretense in our own lives.
Through the gospel, we can stop playing pretend. We can stop saying and playacting like we have it all figured out. We can stop living for ourselves and instead actually live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God from His Holy authoritative Word, the Bible.
On days when I’m kicking myself and beating myself up like it’s going out of style, I need this news. I need to be reminded; I’m not all that great at all. Through Christ, He has made me somebody to tell everybody about the great grandeur and glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The same is true for you. Whether you find yourself beating yourself up today or struggling with anxiety, doubt, worry, fear, depression, or other things in your life, you have the same need as I do. You need to go back to where the Apostle Paul begins with the Corinthians in his epistle to who you are now in Christ. We’re saved by God’s grace not of ourselves lest we boast. It is in and by this grace, we stand, secure, forevermore because of Christ.
The most amazing news in the world is that we don’t have to play pretend. And we don’t have to play pretend or playact anymore because our Savior and Lord is utterly perfect. He is both like, and unlike us, He is utterly sinless, and we are not. He suffered, bled and died in the place and for sinners. He took upon Himself our sin and now through His death, He transfers our sin to Himself, and credits our account with His righteousness. We don’t deserve this grace and mercy. But God gives it freely. In fact, in Ephesians 1, Paul emphatically states that the grace of God superabounds towards God’s people. That means that whether you and I are kicking ourselves up one end of the street down the next, or we are dealing with a variety of hardships or challenges, God’s grace abounds towards His beloved Bride.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the most amazing news in the world. You and are fully loved, fully accepted, fully precious, and fully treasured by our God. And at the end of the day, that should leave us more than speechless, it should cause us to reflect on and focus our gaze on Jesus, the Alpha, and Omega, the Prince of Peace, the One who in every way has shown Himself to be faithful, true, holy, loving, and good. Let’s fix our gaze there. In fact, may our gaze and our lives ever be stuck there and in wonder and awe of all God has done for us in Christ. Through the gospel, we have the most amazing news, and fuel enough to last for all of our days. The only right and proper response to such good news is to sing in endless praise to the God of all grace who has loved us so much and who now calls us to a sacrificial, self-denying, God-glorifying, cross-bearing, others-minded, and servant-hearted life for His glory and renown.