A Gospel Without Power

Romans 1:16

My friend James told me this story. He said, “I’m not mechanically minded. In fact, I could be described as illiterate in things mechanical. In my late teens, I was the pastor of a small church in a farming community in Northern Ireland.

“I visited my congregation at their farms on my bicycle, and to make my task of visiting the flock easier, one of the farmers gave me a small motorbike that had belonged to one of his sons.

“I had never owned or dreamed of owning such a machine and took to it with fear and awe. No one told me how it worked or what I had to do to make it work, and no instruction book came with the old bike.

James continued, “I dressed the part with helmet and riding gear and set out savoring the new experience of being taken to my destination. Gone were the days of pedaling myself to exhaustion against a headwind.

“The second day out, though, the bike sputtered and died. I sat sad and confused without a clue as to what might be wrong. I began pushing the machine along the road. I sweated under my heavy gear and longed for the old days of a predictable bicycle. I trudged mile after mile under the sun. I was tempted to trash the wretched machine in the ditch but did not want to offend the farmer who had given it to me.

By this time James had my full attention. I pitied the guy. So he says, “My thoughts of disgust at my gift and despair that so soon it was broken beyond repair were interrupted by the voice of a friendly farmer. He had seen me dragging my load along the road and called out.

“You can have some of my gas, son!” “I stopped in delighted wonder: My bike was not broken, but out of gas!

What he said next blew me away. “I have met many Christians over the years who push their lives along the highway, about to throw it into the ditch because, although they have the outward trappings of a Christian, they do not know the powerful energy that is the heart of the believer’s life. They are pushing themselves to exhaustion when they should be propelled by the energy of Another.

He asked me, “What is the Gospel Cindy? If what we believe to be the Gospel is not the power of God unto salvation, then we need to ask if we understand it at all.”

I totally agree with my friend James. Let me ask you the same question James asked me, “What is the gospel?

The sad thing is James goes on to say, “many Christians settle for the weekly round of church services, attempts at prayer and Bible study, and the keeping of rules that deal for the most part with the physical life.”

If your present understanding of the Gospel is not producing fruit in your life, maybe it’s time to rethink what the Gospel is, so we can understand it.

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