The shock of being an insider.

This is a quote that rocked me to the core last week.  It’s something Tim Keller references in his study Gospel Christianity 101 (which you should immediately purchase, read, and use as the curriculum at your small group)  He quoted Richard Hays from his book The Moral Vision of The New Testament:

God’s… invasion of the world has wrought an inversion: God has reversed the positions of insiders and outsiders.  Those who are in positions of authority and privilege reject Jesus and the message.  However, people of low or despised position in the social world of first-century Jewish culture receive the gospel gladly, for their need is great… Those familiar with the story should not  under-estimate the shock of this inversion.

It’s a great quote.  It’s not something terribly new to me, but what rocked me this time as I was reading it is the harsh realization that in my church, in my ministry, and in my life I consistently become an insider.  In fact, at times it is my primary goal. I get a new teaching, or a new way of doing things, and I make and “inside” and an “outside.”  I’m always an insider, scratching and clawing my way to be recognized, applauded, and accepted by the other “insiders.”

The gospel alone forces me to admit being an outsider.  But once I am out in the cold, with no way of saving myself, that same gospel shows me (and in some mysterious way gives me) a righteousness that is unshakable.

May God continue to push us out into the cold, lest we believe the compelling lie that there’s something we did (or can do) to save ourselves.