Several weeks ago I wrote a post (Be Prepared) which discussed the apostle Paul’s extraordinary ability to proclaim the Gospel in any and every situation. The focus of the blog was that his preparedness was a result of the fact that he was Gospel fluent. This idea of Gospel fluency (inspired by Jeff Vanderstelt’s blog post “Gospel Fluent Thinking”) has been an idea that I have been wrestling with ever since I wrote that first post. It is important that I emphasize at this point that in writing this post it is not my intention to duplicate Vanderstelt’s thoughts. Nor is it an attempt to improve on them. Rather, it is a working out of my own thoughts on the matter, an overflow of what God has been doing in my own heart and mind.
What has captivated my thoughts is quite simply the use of the word “fluent” in this particular context. I have never heard it used in this context, yet, it fits perfectly. So, what is gospel fluency and how does one acquire this particular fluency? In order to answer those questions let’s go back to the word of interest itself. “FLUENCY”
the quality or condition of being fluent, in particular
• the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately : fluency in Spanish is essential.
• the ability to express oneself easily and articulately.
• gracefulness and ease of movement or style : the horse was jumping with breathtaking fluency.
WOW! Right off the bat this definition rings the bell. -“speaking or writing in a foreign language easily and accurately”- Gospel thinking is not something that comes natural to us as human beings. “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV). No, learning to speak about the beauty of the Gospel can be as unnatural as learning a foreign language. It gets even better though! The definition says “the ability to speak or write a foreign language easily and accurately“. In the next two parts of the definition we see the addition of the adjectives articulately and gracefully. It’s one thing to learn to speak a language. However, learning to speak it easily, articulately, gracefully, and accurately takes quite a bit more work. C.J. Mahaney offers an interesting perspective that really illustrates this idea.
“Never be content with your grasp of the gospel. The gospel is life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing truth. It has more facets than any diamond. Its depths man will never exhaust.”
— C.J. Mahaney (The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing)
So, how does one become fluent in a language? Many experts maintain that the best way to learn a new language is through immersion in the language. It’s not good enough to simply study it. You must immerse yourself in it. You must experience it. You must not only practice it, you must live it. That’s how Paul became “Gospel Fluent”. He immersed himself in it. He read about it. He spoke about it. He prayed about it. He acted in accordance with it. He lived it! Why? Because, he loved it! In fact, he valued it more than anything else. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Philippians 3:8 ESV). We too must immerse ourselves in the Gospel if we intend to be Gospel fluent. To say it another way the Gospel must be the gravitational center of all that we do. More than that, it must be the gravitational center of who we are.