This is a blog post from The Journey, an Acts29 church in St. Louis.
The Gospel of Gelcaps
Jan 05, 2009 ~ Jonathan McIntosh
But what has the power to take away your fever or soothe aching muscles? Is it the gelcap itself or is it the acetaminophen or ibuprofen inside the capsule? Have you ever swallowed an empty gelcap?
As our church enters a series about connecting with God through habits and disciplines, we need to remember a crucial principle – we can’t confuse the capsule with the medicine.
Spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, and the study of scripture – no matter how well they’re carried out – do not have the power to actually change you. How many times have you met someone who practices spiritual disciplines religiously, yet they don’t seem to be becoming more patient, loving, kind or generous? Somehow, through their rigorous spiritual practice they’ve instead become more bitter, more inwardly focused – to use the term – self-righteous.
This is because the disciplines are powerless on their own. The gospel is what has the power to change you. If you and I really believed that Jesus’ death bought for us union and favor with God and that we are now counted as true sons & daughters of the King… if we believed that (not in a linear I-comprehend-that-fact-and-can-sign-my-name-to-that-doctrinal-statement kind of way, but really believed it in a I’ve-experienced-it kind of way) well… that is something that would change us.
Romans 8:16 says that God’s Spirit is always talking, always preaching, always testifying… to us, to the depths of our spirits. And do you know what he says?
You’re a son. You’re a daughter. Don’t forget.
How might your heart be freed from pursuing possessions or acclaim or power or control if you heard that voice? How might you be freed from anxiety, fear, insecurity, and self-righteousness if you heard that voice? What would your life look like if you lived daily with this divine voice?
The call in this series is for us to slow down, bend our hearts, and be attentive to that voice; to establish a rhythm of Sabbath, prayer, scripture, worship, and even service as a means to listen.
But please, don’t pray or do Bible study or attend church and community group just to do “church stuff.”
This gospel is the power for authentic life change; the disciplines are the vehicle by which this power can be transferred to our hearts. The gospel is the medicine, the disciplines are the gelcaps.
Don’t swallow empty gelcaps.