Balancing the Gospel


A few years ago I had a short-term business acquaintance who had grown up in the evangelical church, had experienced both financial success and failure in secular endeavors and was a confessing believer in Christ.

As we were parting company – our business models plainly not matching up – he assured me that I was too serious about my faith; that my life needed “balance.”  My heart was buoyed as I went out the door realizing “He could tell. I am serious about it.”

People who know me well know I am not the in-your-face, street-corner shouting, judgment spouting, Holy-Roller type. But people who know me really, really well know that I no longer try to balance my life between God and Caesar.

I try to balance my life in the Gospel, which is challenge enough.

Everyone knows of the brilliant but vexing answer Jesus gave to the Pharisees who were trying to trick Him into committing blasphemy or treason regarding Roman tax: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Jesus isn’t telling the Pharisees, or us, to balance life between the Gospel truth and secular expediency; He’s saying it is critical to know the difference.

God’s spoken commission to Jesus was “all things” (Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22), not “some things.” The Gospel is the totality of God’s truth, not the balance of man’s opinions. A faithful life in Christ cannot be a fraction or a ratio; it must be a whole.

Pastor Matt Chandler in his recent book “The Explicit Gospel” makes point after excellent point about the existence of both completeness and balance within the Gospel. Too often, he charges, preachers preach an imbalanced Gospel of all works, all missions, all study or all whatever. Chandler says that approach is all wrong.

The Gospel is something at once totally personal and totally universal. That’s what must be balanced. Chandler crafts a clever, clear, coherent and compelling – what we call in church, convicting – case for learning and living the whole Gospel.

What is the Gospel? Well, if you look closely, it’s the entire Bible and the complex truth of God’s love. It is the unique person of Jesus Christ, divine and human, who authors and restores our eternal relationship with God the Father. It is the Holy Spirit, who lights our path to God with mercy, knowledge, comfort and peace.

On balance, the Gospel is the most important thing we can know.