Ukraine Relief Fund

The Significance of a Gospel-Focused Life

1. The Search for Significance

One of the deepest human longings is to feel significant. Deep inside we all want to feel important, to feel needed, to feel like our lives matter. Everyone wants to feel like they are special.

But we live in world that has crafted a narrative of not special. The world tells us, ‘You are just the random result of matter plus time plus chance; you are  nothing more than lucky mud; you are biological accident!’

Amidst this deluge of meaninglessness in a random universe, people spend their lives searching for significance, hoping that somehow, in the midst of a ginormous universe, their life matters. There are two things people do to gain this feeling of significance. First, they seek it in affirmation, the verbalised value others express for who we are and we do. Second, we seek to gain significance through action, doing things that we think are important. So the stuff we do, and the stuff others think about us – this is where many people try to derive a sense of significance.

But the impact of our actions and the affirmations of others fades over time; this is why ‘the world is not enough’. The search for significance goes on throughout our lives. And for many people this search becomes very individualistic: craft your own goals, and interpret what people think about us in the context of those goals. By matching your own efforts and the affirmations you receive with individualistically-crafted goals, you can create, at least superficially, your own sense of significance.

The gospel gives a different, better, and enduring foundation for feeling significant; the gospel answers the search for significance in a deep and profound way. The gospel answers both of these – both the internal need to feel important and the external need for accomplishment-based affirmation.
 The gospel sets us free from the tyranny of what others think about us and draws us into the sphere of what God thinks about us.

Here’s what the gospel does – it gives us intrinsic personal value and a deeply important mission to accomplish for which we receive commendation from God (2 Corinthians 10.18). We see these two coming together in Ephesians 2.10:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Notice what we learn:

1) Our Intrinsic Value

The first part of this is that we are created in Christ Jesus. This speaks to our intrinsic value through what God has done in Christ. We are significant because God first loved us and gave Jesus to die for us and bring us home. God puts us in Christ, he creates us in Christ, and as part of Christ’s body we are valued by God as much as Christ is valued by God. This is the most intense value any person can ever experience.

2) Our Valuable Action

But a new identity in Christ is only the beginning.  In addition to being created in Christ, we are the why behind the what is for good works.  God has stuff for us to do – stuff that matters, stuff that is of eternal value.

2. What We Learn

This is what we have to understand: the kingdom of God creates a different risk/reward assessment: nearly dying for the work of Christ makes sense. The kingdom of God redefines purpose: what we do for the gospel is of eternal value. In God’s economy, sacrifice for the gospel makes sense.

But with Timothy and Epaphroditus we also learn that gospel advance is personal. Timothy and Epaphroditus are real people, real men, involved in real relationships of genuine care and concern. Timothy didn’t merely represent the gospel, he was an extension of Paul’s personal care. Epaphroditus wasn’t just a commodity, but the Philippians were appropriately concerned when they heard about his sickness, and Paul himself was also distressed.

3. An Invitation

We started by recognising that every human has a deep need to feel significant. Many people try to fill that need by crafting a narrative about their lives that makes their lives feel significant to themselves, either through their accomplishments or what others think about them.

Paul is reminding us of a simple but profound truth: in addition to the intrinsic value you have in Christ, there is nothing more significant than devoting your life to the gospel. This doesn’t mean you need to quit your day job; it does mean that you interpret your life as an opportunity to participate in gospel advance.

Here's what it looks like to live a gospel-focused life:

1) Show up. This is what both Timothy and Epaphroditus got right. These weren't the greatest guys, but they could at least show up and give what they have. Someone once said that 80% of life is showing up. You can't steer a parked car, and gospel impact begins with showing up.

2) Give up. Not as in surrender, but give what you've got. This simply means to be faithful. None of us can't give what we don't have, and God doesn't expect us to. But, he has given all of us something, and our job is to use what he has given us for gospel advance.

3) Ante up. This simply means 'to do one's share of something'. In a word, to sacrifice. The term comes from poker where a player has to meet the stakes raised beforehand. Timothy and Epaphroditus have raised the stakes; let's make a commitment to embrace the economy of God's kingdom in which personal sacrifice for gospel advance makes sense.

Remember, you have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. The new creation in Christ is who you are; you are significant because God has paid a high price for you in Christ. But your significant value is meant to be spent, not hoarded; to be poured out, not preserved; to be devoted to the gospel of Jesus, not wasted on trivial pursuits.

You will experience your greatest sense of significance when you join Timothy and Epaphroditus in a life lived for the glory of God.

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