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The sure foundation of the gospel

May 5, 2015 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Gospel

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:1-2)

Bright and early this morning, I was standing on one of the top rungs of my extension ladder, leaned up against a branch of a pine tree in my neighbor’s yard, trying to pull my cat out of the tree without losing my balance. We had heard Pumpkin’s cries throughout the night, but he was too high to reach without a ladder, and we dared not frighten our neighbors by bringing a ladder on to their property in the middle of the night. But once dawn broke, Michele and I were there with our ladder, and there I was, climbing through the pine tree to reach our cat. One ripped shirt and many scars later, I managed to unhinge our wide-eyed feline from the branch where he spent the night, and to bring him safely down to solid ground.

This past month, I have been preaching through a sermon series that examines the implications of the gospel for various areas of our life. One of the repeated themes is that the gospel teaches us to find our identity and our self-worth in God’s great love for us instead of rooting it in anything else. We can all be prone to basing our value on things such as what our spouse thinks of us, how our kids are doing, how prestigious our job is, or how much money we make. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that building our lives on any foundation other than His words is like building our house on the sand. The only secure place for our self-worth is in the gospel, that God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, even when we were His enemies. And now we know that we are valuable, not because of anything we have done or might do, but simply because God loves us.

Sadly, however, this kind of truth tends to become real to our heart not through listening to a sermon, but through experiencing the foundations of our life crumbling. Like a cat up in a tree, we have placed ourselves in a precarious situation, with our self-worth dependent upon our spouse, our kids, our looks, our reputation, our bank account, or any number of other things. And then Jesus comes to call us to solid ground, to abandon those foundations in exchange for the sure footing of the gospel. But we stubbornly cling to those false foundations like a treed cat to his branch, frightened and distrustful of the One who has come to rescue us.

If you are finding your value and self-worth in anything other than the gospel, do not be surprised if you go through experiences – relational difficulties, rebellious children, job loss, financial struggles, etc. – that show you just how unstable those foundations really are. While your first inclination may be to fearfully or angrily plead with God to restore those things to you, you would be wise to consider whether God might be calling you instead to repent of finding your identity in those things, and to instead trust that the security and joy of His love is what your heart is truly looking for. Money, jobs, health, and even our closest relationships may come and go, but Jesus loves you with a committed, life-changing, everlasting love, and He will never leave you nor forsake you.

And never forget, He’s got the scars to prove it.

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