Paul Tripp in his book “How People Change” describes what he calls “gospel blindness” as follows:
“It is in the here and now that many of us experience gospel blindness. Our sight is dimmed by the tyranny of the urgent, the siren call of success, by the seductive beauty of physical things, by our inability to admit our own problems, and by the casual relationships within the body of Christ that we mistakenly call fellowship…..People need to see that the gospel belongs in their workplace, their kitchen, their school, their bedroom, their backyard, and their van. They need to see the way the gospel makes a connection between what they are doing and what God is doing. They need to understand that their life stories are being lived out within God’s larger story so that they can learn to live each day with a gospel mentality.” (Paul David Tripp, How People Change, pg. 4)
Secondly, it’s good stuff, because Paul Tripp is on to something. He’s articulating what I’ve been saying for the last few months in our Missional Living series. He’s articulating what I live through each day of my life.
The gospel is more than a story of how God can forgive me for my past, and it is more than a story of how He has secured my eternity. It is also a story of how the life that I live now can only be lived for Him if I live it in Him. It’s the gospel for my today, and my tomorrow, and my every day.
But then the real question becomes, “do I really live that truth out?” Tyler touched on this yesterday in his post, lamenting the times he has “talked the talk”, but it never moved from talk to action. The question Tripp raises in his book (and I hope will answer….I’m just reading it now), is “how”; how to move from knowing the truth to living the truth. Essentially, how we change.
His fundamental premise is that we must address this “gospel blindness”. We must address the need to see how the gospel intersects with every single aspect of our life (our marriage, our job, our parenting, our finances, our relationships, our struggles with sin, our thought-life…everything). If we don’t address that, then we will continue to suffer from gospel-blindness.
Tripp goes on to suggest that this gospel blindness manifests itself in three ways:
1. Blindness of Identity – Because we don’t fully understand who we are without Christ, we also don’t understand who we are in Christ. When we don’t fully understand our depravity, we will “underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin” (Tripp), and this will lead us to believe the lie that our greatest problems are not within us but outside of us. Further, when we don’t fully understand our identity in Christ, then we will live out some other identity (e.g. materialism, achievement, perfectionism, formal religion, legalism, activism, etc.)
2. Blindness of Provision – 2 Peter 1:3 says,
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”
This means that we who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation have the presence of Christ (through the abiding Spirit) in us…and that His presence in us is enough. The provision of “Christ in us” is all we need for God to affect lasting change in us to live out the missional life He has called each of us to. But, if I am blinded to how the gospel intersects with my life in the “here and now”, I will be blind to the presence of Christ in me, and I will simply try to “be better” and “do more” to affect those changes myself.
3. Blindness to God’s Process – If we misunderstand the gospel, then it is easy for us to think that God is all about working things out for our comfort and ease, instead of working on us for gospel growth and transformation for His glory. As Tripp says, “Making us holy is God’s unwavering agenda until we are taken home to be with him” (Tripp). If we are blind to this maturing process, then we are easy prey for the enemy’s strategy of inducing resentment that God isn’t blessing us according to our desires and timetable.
How about you? Do you have a gospel blind spot? Where might you be reducing the gospel to something that focuses more on the externals instead of allowing it to focus on daily, grace-filled, heart change? This is a daily battle for me, and I doubt that I’m alone in that.
(I’m looking forward to finishing the book, and hope to share more of Tripp’s insights with you as I do).