I’ve recently moved from the city to the country. I used to live within ¼ mile of Interstate 15, one of the busiest freeways in the world. I knew that we were near the freeway and I knew that it was noisy, but I never realized just how noisy it was until I returned to our old home. I was surprised, no, shocked, at just how loud that freeway was. It seemed deafening to me. Wow, I thought, I never heard this before!
Aside from a trivial vignette about our transition from urban to rural life, is there something more to be learned here? I think so. I think we can learn that a noise can be so loud that we just don’t hear it anymore.
For instance, I think it is possible for the gospel to become like the I-15 was to me: white noise. Is it there? Yes. Is it important? Yes, of course. But . . . am I really aware of it? Do I see where it intersects with my daily life? Is the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ the loudest story I hear every day? Or am I consumed with other stories, like the one about getting my laundry done or better yet, getting my “spiritual act” together? Has the gospel become old hat? Hackneyed, tired background noise? In other words, in my pursuit of godliness, have I left Jesus behind?
At the end of the day it’s not really a big deal if I am cognizant of the I-15 or not. But it is a big deal if I forget to live in light of the gospel. When What Would Jesus Do? becomes more important than What Did Jesus Do? the very motivation and power for change that I need will elude me. And I won’t have the hope that I need to fight another day against the sin that haunts and seeks to condemn me.
And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting aside from the hope of the gospel that you heard . . . (Colossians 1:21-23).
When you read that passage what did you see? Did you see commands about being stable and continuing in the faith? They are there for sure. But there is something else there, too. The gospel is there: We who once were alienated and hostile have been reconciled to God by His work! By His work He will present us holy, blameless, and above reproach! How does this happen? By putting all my hope in Christ’s work. It’s so easy to shift aside from hope in the gospel–to put my hope in methods or secret steps or my own determination to do better. But the gospel puts an end to all of that and says, “Trust in Christ’s work alone.”
Now the question is, What do you hear? Do you hear the good news? If not, don’t despair. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to open your ears so you can hear. So, ask Him and don’t be surprised if the gospel message roars to life like never before. I don’t really miss the I-15, and so what? But . . . are you hearing the good news about Jesus?