"This I Know"
Our little Lucy requests that I sing "This I Know" to her at bedtime. She means the song "Jesus Loves Me", but the line "This I Know" stands out to her. She knows more than she realizes; we preach the gospel to ourselves that we would know what we know; that His voice of love would quiet us, encourage and give us rest - "He gives to his beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2). The basic question that she is expressing is not backwards looking - not, "Did you love me today, Daddy?" No, it's, "As I fall asleep, will I be OK?" "This I Know" is about forward-looking reassurance, that morning will come.
In the same way, we preach a gospel to ourselves that looks back, crucially, in order to look forward. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that faith 1) believes that God is real and there, and that 2) He rewards those who seek him (11:4). This is forward looking faith, and it changes us: "By faith Moses . . . refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward" (11:24-26). Moses lived differently, by faith that looked forward to Jesus' reward. The cross is the proof that the promises of God are and WILL EVER BE yes in Jesus. Jesus was, is and WILL BE better. As we believe this, we are changed.
To preach the gospel to ourselves means proclaiming to ourselves our future hope, bought and assured for us on the cross. Then we couple that with prayer, that God would give us this forward-looking sight. He must do it. He often does this by privileging us to be around those who talk much of heaven, whom God has gently moved to see it more closely. Who are these people in your life?
This forward sight will free you to love: ". . . as you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matt. 25:40). In the end, God will separate the sheep from the goats solely on the basis of faith, faith that looks forward to him bringing gracious reward, and living in light of that reward. That means loving the least of our brothers and sisters in this church, and around the world. Faith frees us to love.