Is Behavior The Gospel?
3. “IS BEHAVIOR THE GOSPEL?”
Imagine a buffet. See the towering stacks of plates, the orange heat lamps, the steam rising. The freedom to pick and choose however much (or however little) you want. Now imagine modern Christianity. A choice between the many perceived in-roads to salvation. Pick one or a few based on culture, theology and denomination. Do these individual pieces make up the gospel? Absolutely. Can we choose a few and leave the rest? Absolutely not…
Assigning buffet foods to sacred elements of the gospel can seem trivial, but sometimes, the trivialized must be unpacked, one scoop at a time, so that it may be reassembled into its unabridged and natural sequence. In that spirit, what makes a vegetable a vegetable? An ear of corn is not an ear of corn simply because it has kernels and a cob. It’s not even corn because it behaves like corn. It’s simply corn.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves: Does behaving like Jesus make me a child of God? It’s like saying behaving like a monkey makes me a monkey! Does Christlike behavior secure my eternity? Is my Christian identity derived from how I behave in public? How I behave in private? Or is my identity found in the transformational reality of—as Paul put it—Spirit testifying to my spirit that I am a child of God? As Jesus said, He is the Vine and we are the branches. Is there a cognitive inner awareness of Jesus in me or is it the same as when demons believe?
The purpose of Jesus was never and will never be behavioral modification. The purpose of Jesus is to give life to the dead man. To take us from spiritual death to spiritual life. Not as a belief, but literally. We are deceived into thinking that once we believe we need to start behaving! We take this “behavior” piece of the gospel of into our own hands and desperately try, not realizing that it’s the Spirit of God that transforms our minds to the mind of Christ. This alone results in Christ-like behavior, irrespective of circumstances. No more Sunday highs or Monday lows.
We modify our behavior in almost every circumstance of life. How can we presume to treat the Christian walk any differently? Transformational, Christlike behavior is a result of inner connectivity with the Holy Spirit. It’s the stuff no one sees. The testimony we display when we’re alone. In public, we perform. In church, we perform. At work and school and home, we perform. But the great thing about Jesus is that he doesn’t demand performance, what He desires is a personal Spirit to spirit relationship, literally! When we put our faith in him and seek that communion, he transforms us. The consequence is that we behave like him.
If we think simply behaving like Christ makes us Children of God, we are living a deception called the Segmented Gospel.