We have the capacity to become accustomed to almost anything.
Your husband’s snoring? That annoying pain in your leg? An overly demanding boss? The morning traffic? We can get used to all that stuff and more. The way you get used to something is by experiencing it over and over again. And the more you experience it, the more you cope with it, and the more you cope with it, the more numb to it you become.
That’s fine when it comes to snoring or traffic, but the same principle applies to good things. We can become accustomed to the words, “I love you,” from our children. Or the fact that our spouse makes the coffee every morning. Or that we have a comfortable emergency fund in the bank. The things that once made us marvel in gratitude become just another part of the background of everyday life. We become numb to these things, too.
And like them, we can become numb to the gospel.
We can forget how great our sin is. We can forget how great the sacrifice of Jesus is. And we can forget the mind-blowing reality that we are counted as sons and daughters of God. Oh, we don’t intellectually forget these things I suppose; but we become accustomed to them. We get used to them. We become numb.
So how do you break out of this kind of gospel numbness? Surely the first way is to bring that numbness to the Lord, because more than anything else, we need the Holy Spirit to stoke the flame of affection in our hearts again. Having done that, though, there are other things we can do in order to de-numb ourselves. And if you find yourself living in a state of gospel numbness, here are three more suggestions:
1. Share the gospel.
To fight gospel numbness, share the gospel. This is the way the Lord has designed us, that sharing the gospel is not just for the benefit of the person hearing the message; it’s also a benefit to our own souls. I mean, think about a restaurant you really love. Or a movie or book that you have read several times because it impacted you so deeply. Doesn’t it rekindle your love for that thing when you share it with someone else? To see someone else experience that thing you were once so excited about for the very first time? Of course it does. So one of the most practical things we can do to kindle our own need for grace and appreciation for the gospel is to share it with other people.
2. Own your sin.
Another way you fight gospel numbness is to own your own sin. To be clear, I don’t mean that you live in a sense of guilt about your sin because doing so would mean you are failing to believe that Jesus really took care of your sin at the cross. But what I do mean is that when you sin, when you wrong someone else, that you quickly and humbly apologize without justification or equivocation. You own it courageously. And really the only way you can do that – the only way you can own your own sin is when you believed that Jesus has already forgiven your sin. When you do that, you sense deeply your need for grace over and over again.
3. Put yourself in a position to remember.
And then one final way you fight gospel numbness is to put yourself in a position to regularly remember. To remember the depth of your sin. To remember the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice. To remember who you are now as a child of God. How do you do that? Through simple things like making sure that gathering together with the community of saints is a priority. More of a priority than sleep. More of a priority than travel ball. More of a priority than an extra day on the lake. God has given us the gift of each other, and one of the reasons why is so that we can help each other remember as we sing, read, and pray together.
We can become numb to anything. Even the gospel. But some kinds of numbness are worth fighting. Let’s fight to remember our need for grace and how God has freely given it.