It's not about you. Even if that stings the pride, it is absolutely true. Even if it goes against every fiber of our being, it's still true. We have been conditioned to think of everything in reference to self. Ever since humanity came into contact with sin, we have struggled to think of anything without self occupying the center of our perception. That includes how we view religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular. But at the end of the day (and even at the start), it's not about you. Period. Full stop. What then is it about? It's about the glory of God. 

Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul: "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?' 'Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?' For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen" (Romans 11:33-36). To the Corinthians, Paul wrote, "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God(1 Corinthians 10:31). Clearly, then, it's not just the "spiritual" activities in our lives that God means for us to do for His glory. It's every activity in our lives. Eat to the glory of God. Drink to the glory of God. Whatever you find yourself doing, do it to the glory of God. Your doing was meant to glorify Him. All our doing should have that conscious aim, both individually and as a local church (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Psalm 22:23; 29:1-2; Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 4:16; John 21:19).

Yet for us to live our lives in a way that magnifies the glory of God requires that God's Spirit work transformation in us so that we increasingly take on the character of our Lord, Jesus Christ. True transformation is the product the Holy Spirit using the Gospel to shape our lives, conforming us increasingly to the mold of Christ's likeness (to learn more about the Gospel, click HERE). This is how we are able to glorify God. And this reminds us how essential the Gospel is, not just at the point of conversion but every step along the way in the Christian life. Our church is filled with people who believe that they exist to glorify God and who, therefore, strive to saturate themselves in the Gospel daily. We are imperfect. Very imperfect. Yet we're comforted by the glorious hope and grace we find in the New Testament - "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ...to the glory and praise of God" (Philippians 1:6, 11).     

     We do this by actively embracing GOSPEL-CENTRALITY

The "3 GCs." That's a phrase we throw around a lot at Southern Oaks, but it's far more than just a slogan to us. It's short-hand for three non-negotiables at our church: Gospel-Centrality, the Great Commission, and the Great Commandments. We actively embrace all three of these. What does that mean? It means we don't want to merely affirm their importance from the pews. We aim higher than that. We actively strive to live them out and embody what they represent, individually and as a church. Our goal is for all of our activities to have the Gospel at their center and all our ministries to equip us to live out, or provide opportunities to engage in, the Great Commission and Great Commandments to the glory of God.

Gospel-Centrality. It is our contention that every church must keep the Gospel and, therefore, Christ at the center. "To be gospel-centered", writes Tim Challies, "is to live your life with the constant awareness that the gospel changes everything. It is to ask in every situation, "What difference does the death and resurrection of Jesus make here and now?" Similarly, Russel Moore has observed, "Gospel-centrality means that any aspect of life is viewed in its cosmic context, in which God is 'summing up' all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10-11). All of creation is seen in that full context, and connections are made between everything that is and the kingdom purposes for which it was called into being. Every passage of Scripture is interpreted in light of the story of Jesus, as is every passage of a believer's unfolding life story." J. A, Medders, likewise, has echoed these sentiments, "Gospel-centeredness means that the person and work of Jesus is the central message in all things; he is our model for all of life and ministry; the Son of God is our motivation in obedience to God's Word; and Jesus of Nazareth is the means to carry out all that God commands." We agree with Paul that the Gospel should be of "first importance" to every Christian (1 Corinthians 15).

The Great Commission. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20). These are the final words of Jesus recorded in the book of Matthew. The instructions were given to His followers and are usually referred to as the Great Commission. There is really only one command: make disciples of all nations. The rest of the information is commentary on that single command, explaining what disciple-making involves from Jesus' perspective. To make disciples we must "go," "baptize," and "teach." Therefore, what Jesus describes is the whole process of discipleship, not exclusively what some people think of when they hear the word "missions." It's more (but never less) than sharing the Gospel with people and inviting them to respond to Jesus in repentance and faith so that they can be saved. It also includes baptizing all who have trusted in Christ alone to save them and it involves a lifetime of learning from and living out all that Jesus has taught His followers. Jesus has called us play a role in making, maturing, and multipying disciples who in turn make, mature, and multiply disciples who make, mature and multiply disciples... This is what our Christian lives should be invested in wherever God has placed us and the local church is no different.  

The Great Commandments. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments, He responded with these words: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). This was a brilliant answer. He was showing them that these two commands (the first from Deuteronomy 6:5 and the second from Leviticus 19:18) are the foundation upon which all the other commands of God are built. In other words, you could say that any command that the Lord has given in the Bible is an application of one of these two commands. They all have to do with loving God and loving other people. This love is an identifying marker of God's people (John 13:35). We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Obedience to God is an overflow of our love for Him, which itself is an outworking of joy that swells up in us when we consider His love expressed to us in Christ. In other words, as we meditate on the Gospel we see God's love for us and this produces in us the love and worship needed to follow Jesus faithfully. The Gospel fuels our love for God and love for neighbor. As a church we want to be known for love, a "cruciform" love (i.e., a costly and sacrificial love shaped by the cross of Jesus), and we want that love to be a reflection of Christ's love.  

To learn more about "the 3 GCs," take a look at the sermon series with the same title by clicking HERE.  

     Gospel-Shaped Worship 
     Gospel-Shaped Prayer
     Gospel-Shaped Expository Preaching 
     Gospel-Shaped Discipleship 
     Gospel-Shaped Community
     Gospel-Shaped Outreach
     Gospel-Shaped Service.