At our last teen event, I had the honor and privilege of getting to pray with a sweet girl who was deciding that living life with Jesus was the better way to live life. It was absolutely beautiful! And then I was completely burdened for her. I'm a huge advocate for discipleship, not just conversion prayers. I live in Clinton, Mississippi. She lives in Slidell, Louisiana. I prayed for people to rise up to disciple her where she lived, but also for ways I could encourage her from afar. I decided to send out a call to fellow believers who had previously made the same decision and are walking with Jesus. I told them about our new gospel sister and asked for their words. I asked them what the Gospel and living a gospel-centered life meant to them. This is what they said.
"Your life will forever be changed for the better! Even when things aren't going perfect in life just remember that God has a perfect plan for you. You will probably be faced with some tough decisions. Pray about them, and let God lead you! Just remember that you will not always make the right decisions or choices in life, and that is because we are all sinners, but thankfully we have been saved by grace! Spend time in the Word and get to know God and He will give you the peace, love and guidance through life."
"You made the most wonderfully scary decision I've ever made in my life. The Gospel means a new life to me. It also means hope in the midst of your deepest darkest moments. I've been able to see God’s hand in the hardest points in my walk with Him. I cannot express how much hope and joy and love comes from trusting Christ. A gospel-centered life to me is taking the hope that I have been given and actually living like it. Living a life sold out for Jesus will take you places and call you to things you could have never even imagined, and what God will do with your obedience will be even more amazing."
"When I finally started to understand the Gospel, I realized that God loved me and desired a right relationship with me so much that He offered up His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. I found so much rest and peace when I found out that I could never do enough good to be right with God, but that I could have assurance of forgiveness and peace with God by simply believing on what Christ did for me on the cross and through His resurrection from the dead. Since understanding the message of Christ and God’s great love for me, I have found such joy in knowing God and having a peaceful relationship with Him! Before I understood the great lengths that He went to reconcile me to Himself, trying to please Him and obey Him was such a burdensome task. Now I know that I have received unmerited grace from Him, so serving Him and living my life for Him is the greatest joy. When I understood the unconditional love of God toward me, I felt free from the bondage of sin. I began to find (and still do!) great hope and satisfaction in the promises found in God’s word ... He promises to never leave nor forsake me, He is a faithful Father and Shepherd who promises to guide me, He has set His love on me and nothing will change that, and the list goes on. I still face trials and struggles with sin, but I have joy, purpose, and peace that cannot be taken from me. He is so good! He is worthy of our lives, and He is the only one who will satisfy! I am confident that as you seek the Lord, you will find Him!"
"God is always with you! Jesus gave His life for you and the Holy Spirit stays here with us to help guide us along our journey. It may be hard to decipher and discern when God is speaking to you. Do you get that “gut feeling” about things in your life – decisions, people, friends, opportunities? Jesus wants to help you and be involved with all of those decisions. He will help you make the best decisions. He has YOUR best interest in mind, and I hope you continue to learn to lean on Him to help you as you make decisions. It may be intimidating or seem a bit unnatural at first, but the Bible really is alive and is applicable for life today. Becoming all God created us to be is a journey! It will take some time to figure out all He’s put on the inside of us, but what a journey it can be! :) You don’t have to be someone you aren't, and you don’t have to “change” to please God. Start by just trying to understand more about Him and who He is. It’s a good place to start. Jesus is way more interested in you and a relationship with you than He is in rules for you to follow. Try not to feel like the Bible is a Do and Don’t book, but rather guidelines for you to have the best life you can have. Jesus loves you no matter what! And when you mess up (because you will, we ALL do), Jesus is always going to be right there next to you to help pick you back up and love on you, if you let Him. He does NOT look down on you – He is ready to hold your hand and walk through this life with you – and even carry you when you need Him to.You are brave and courageous! You are beautiful and becoming!"
"The Gospel for me means I am free from the punishment of all the terrible sins I have or ever will commit. It means that I don't have to live my life by a set of rules, but that I WANT to live as pure of a life as I can because I am thankful for Jesus' sacrifice, and I can only do that by His power. It means that I don't have to keep failing over and over again by TRYING to get it right the "next time", but that I have victory and forgiveness over sin through Jesus' blood. It means that all I have to "do" is know God loves me and extend that love to others, and when that is too difficult for me, ask Him to love through me. Finally, the Gospel means I have hope for a better life in eternity; a life free from hurt and disappointment. I pray you experience peace in the midst of life's storms, knowing Jesus has already won and has great things in store for you."
"The decision you made to follow Christ is the best one you'll ever make. Ever. It will be one of the hardest, but the absolute most rewarding experience of your life to follow Christ. What you have to remember is that you are not perfect, but He is. And now He lives inside your heart. No one can snatch you out of His hand, the scriptures say, and that is something I tell myself daily. What a wonderful thought that you can snuggle up to Jesus, cheek to cheek, and He loves you! He always has, and He always will. The way we feel His love and learn more about Him is through his Word, The Bible. When you make reading His Word part of your life, it will change you from the inside out. I made the decision to follow Jesus because I knew that Jesus laid down His life for me and that He took my sins away. Jesus, the perfect son of God, loved me enough to do that. I heard it, and I believed it. I still believe it today. What a joy to have Him living in us! After we give our lives to Him, nothing's ever going to be perfect. We're not ever promised tomorrow, but what we are promised is eternal life with Him. There's no better way to live out our time left on earth than to learn about Him, worship Him, and tell others about Him. That's what the Gospel is all about."
"For me, it's so easy to compare my life of living with a double mind in the past and my life now. (“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other." Matthew 6:24a) The Gospel is truly all I have. It's the Hope I have in this life, of salvation and eternity with God that pushes me toward Him and the plans He has for my life. I used to live seeking the things of the world and trying to look like the world when others saw me. Now I seek to live for Christ alone and when others look at me all I want them to see is Christ in me. I think living a gospel-centered life is seeking the Holy Spirit to change me daily so that through His work alone in my heart I am being made more each day into the woman He is molding me to be for Him. ("I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14) I want every single detail in my life to honor God as I strive to live how He has called me to, and by sharing His Gospel. Our salvation is in Christ alone, and I want to share that Good News with others!"
"Living a life centered on Jesus means knowing, truly knowing, and living like you know you matter. You are loved - completely, wholly, without any strings attached. No matter how good you are, or how bad you are. He just loves you. Nothing that happens to you goes without His notice or care. He hurts when you hurt, and rejoices when you rejoice. Great comfort comes from that truth. It helps strengthen me when times are hard, because I know I am not alone. I get to celebrate a bit bigger because I know He is cheering alongside me when things are good. It is being confidently wrapped up in that love. And when you know you really matter, you realize that how you live matters. Jesus cares about the choices you make - He only has your best interest at heart. He cares what you say, what you wear, what you watch, who you hang around with because He wants only good for you. The fact that He loves me makes me want to know what He thinks about decisions I make. The Bible, a good church or Christian friend are a few great places to start learning about this. I now find myself being more confident in my choices, even if they are different, because I know He cares for me and is proud of me. And the new choices I make end up sharing His love with the world around me, because I just can't hold it in! Being a Christian is not always easy, and no one will get it just right. But knowing God as your best friend - the Lover of your soul - can change you forever!"
"I knew of Jesus, but didn't understand what it meant to live my life for Him or even really what He had done for me. Everything changed when I prayed that Jesus would be my everything. A few helpful things to remember: 1) You are more sinful than you know (we all are), but Jesus' grace is more sufficient and consuming that you can imagine. 2) There will be seasons where walking with God is hard and not fun, but a season is a season - it will end. Stay consistent and fight things out with God. He can handle it and He wants to. 3) God's Word is life. God's people are life. Be a part of activities that produce life in you."
Their answers were too beautiful not to share. I know I never tire of hearing stories of why life with Jesus is the better way to live. Charles Spurgeon said, "Never lose heart in the power of the Gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man for whom the Gospel is not fitted." May we never stop believing in the power of the Gospel to winsomely woo us and others! I sent these letters to her once a week until they were gone. We don't talk as much now, but I pray for her every time I think of her. I invite you to pray for her and all the young believers in your life too, and to personally be reminded of what the Gospel means to you.
Let's make our own rules,