At first glance, the title of today’s message might lead you to believe we are going to focus on the current state of the American economy. Not true; we’re going to look at a far more important economy—God’s—and how it has turned the world upside-down.
Consider Jesus’ remarkable statements concerning the upside-down, counterintuitive economy of God:
Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:35)
The last will be first, and the first last. (Matthew 20:16)
Lose your life to save it? The first will be last? What’s going on here? The best way to interpret Scripture is to let Scripture interpret itself, and there is no better place to interpret the counterintuitive economy of God than with the story of David being anointed as king of Israel. When God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint Israel’s new king, Samuel was initially basing his pick on outward appearances. But as Samuel looked upon the sons of Jesse, God said something that helps us understand His upside-down economy.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7)
When Jesus said “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it,” He was telling His disciples that the Christian life was a life of service marked by sacrifice, suffering, and sorrow. When Jesus said “The last will be first, and the first last,” He was telling His disciples that power, prestige, and position in this life do not necessarily correspond to the same things in the next life. In fact, the reverse is often true!
In God’s economy, what is unseen is more important than what is seen; what goes on inside of us is more important than what is going on outside of us. Problems occur when we spend too much time focusing on what is seen rather than what is unseen—what’s going on outside of us rather than inside of us.
Some years back, Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song titled, “The Change.” The chorus lyrics are:
What about the change?
What about the difference?
What about grace?
What about forgiveness?
I want to live a life that’s showing
That’s it! Instead of praying for bigger barns, we should be praying for bigger hearts. And it is only the power of the Gospel that causes us to pray in such a way.
You see, the Gospel isn’t just the truth that unbelievers must believe in order to receive eternal life. It is a moment-by-moment reality that believers must embrace so that they can “abundantly” experience their salvation (John 10:10). Many in the church mistakenly believe that only the unbeliever is in need of the Gospel. But the reality set forth in the Scriptures is that both the unbeliever and the believer need the Gospel, because the Gospel is for sinners—all sinners—who are in need of a Savior.
The Gospel frees us from our bondage to the economy of the world—frees us from forever running on the performance treadmill—and allows us to embrace the upside-down economy of our God with great joy! The Gospel is how we set about undergoing the change.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!