By Brianna Hines
UFC is a weird church. I have been a part of six churches thus far in my life. I have heard the sermons, volunteered in the ministries, attended the events, and gotten to know the people in each of these churches, but of all six of them, UFC is definitely the weirdest. I will tell you why: I never stop hearing the gospel! It’s everywhere! UFC is like a broken record endlessly repeating the good news of Jesus!
I wasn’t used to that before I came here. All of those other churches were great, and they taught the Bible and loved their people. But when we showed up at UFC, the flavor was entirely different. The gospel is never assumed. It is taught. Again and again and again. I have never heard the gospel presented in so many ways and from so many voices as it has been at UFC. It blows me away. You wanna talk about a gospel-centered church, well UFC is it!
I am so glad I have experienced a church like UFC. It is easy as Christians to let the gospel slide out of its primary position of importance or to lose its potency. We know the details, we’ve heard the script. This is kinder-level Christianity. Can’t we move on to the more challenging stuff already? I have caught myself thinking that more times than I’d like to admit, but it is books like First John that remind us all of why we should never move “beyond” the simplicity of the gospel. The gospel, the good news that God sent His Son to die for our sins so that we might have eternal life, is the single truth that our eternity hinges upon. And even though I may have heard it thousands of times by now, the person sitting in the chair next to me may never have. The gospel can never be assumed, and it can never be graduated.
It is our understanding of the gospel that allows us to claim our new identity of Beloved (I John 4:11), even when we feel like one forgotten or rejected or unworthy. It is through the power of the gospel that we are able to pay God’s love forward to other people (I John 3:16), even when they don’t deserve it or hate us in return (I John 3:13). It is the gospel that gives us confidence to ask God for anything (I John 5:14-15), to obey His commands (I John 1:7), and to confess our sins before Him (I John 1:9). The gospel gives us the ability to put sin to death (I John 3:9), and it is also our faith in the gospel that ultimately overcomes the world (I John 5:4).
As tempting as it is, we can’t let anything cloud our focus on the gospel. A series on Christian health and fitness is a lot of fun, but without the gospel, it is worthless (says the girl that produced one earlier this year! Ugh!). A sermon on parenting can be super helpful, but without the gospel, is just striving after the wind (shoutout to Pastor Brett for expertly weaving the gospel into his parenting series). We have to make the gospel the cornerstone of everything we do as Christians so we won’t forget it or let it fade into the background, but keep it burning brightly, ready to share with the world. As I said before: the gospel can never be graduated or assumed. But how do you and I do that? How do we go from hearing the gospel to sharing it? Especially in such an anti-christ world?
Trust me, I know how intimidating it seems to share the gospel with non-Christians. The thought terrifies me, especially living in Eugene. I am not good at theological debates or even raised voices. When someone disagrees with what I am saying, I get flustered and can only come up with a good answer several hours after I have walked away. How on earth are we supposed to share the gospel?
I know Pastor Brett has talked about this many times, so I’m going to be a broken record right now, too. But we should all be ready to tell our own gospel story. The gospel isn’t just a tract of Bible verses to recite to non-believers, it is a personal encounter with that good news ourselves. I love that I John 5:10 says, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself” (emphasis mine). If the gospel moves from something purely informational to something deeply personal, the world simply can’t touch it.
No one can argue with your personal experience, especially in today’s culture. There is no room for debate or fact checking. Your personal experience with Jesus is your personal experience with Jesus. End of story. It is a subtle but deadly weapon against the manipulation and intimidation of the enemy when we share the gospel with the world. “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith” (I John 5:4). All we have to do is tell others the story of our lives encountering Jesus. What could be more disarming and simple?
Are you ready to tell that story today? Have you ever even given a thought to it? What would you say to someone who asked you, “How has the gospel changed your life?” If you have never answered that question, now is the right time. Satan wants us to be unprepared and intimidated if ever we encounter opportunities to share the gospel. Don’t let him have the satisfaction. Think about your story, write your story down, and then be ready to share it. You might be surprised at the opportunities that begin to present themselves the moment you are prepared to meet them.
So, as I said before, UFC is weird. You go to a weird church. But it is weird in the very best sense of the word because it truly is a gospel-centric church. We should be weird, too. We should be living such gospel-centric lives that it changes the flavor of everything we do and every person we encounter. We should all be weird together, and we should be proud of it.
…This is the victory that has overcome the world – your faith…
Editor’s Note: Join UFC Women today at 9:30 a.m. at Barn (or on Zoom) or at 6:30 p.m. in the church offices for our study of First John. The cost for the study guide is $15. Childcare will be provided for the morning study. If you are interested in joining the Zoom group, please contact Jamie Harms at email@example.com.