by Annie Yorty
I huddled in my seat on the frigid bus, face turned toward the window, sobbing quietly.
My team and I had just left a Siberian rehab center.
To call it a center, though, gave it far too much credit.
Rustic better describes the patchwork structure, wood stove kitchen, and outhouses nestled deep into layers of packed snow.
Earlier we hiked a snow-covered road against biting wind to visit addicted men who lived in this remote outpost.
Behind the heavy insulation-padded metal door, smoky warmth drew us in.
“Watch your step,” we called down the line as we filed through a dim, uneven hallway.
Passing a rudimentary kitchen, my nose wrinkled at the smell of simmering cabbage mingled with body odor.
My eyes blinked as we emerged into a sunny, cramped living room with scattered plastic chairs and a couple of shabby couches.
As we stripped off layers of outerwear, men wandered into the room, all heavily tattooed and some barely out of teenage years.
Their vacant eyes, missing teeth, and worn faces told the sad tale of a lifetime of hard living.
Some of the men had lived in this home long enough to be free of the physical grip of addiction.
They had heard the gospel of Christ and were learning to apply it to their lives.
A few gave testimonies of God saving them through abandonment, violence, prison, shame, relapses . . . you name it.
During those moments God gave me His mind and heart in a powerful new way.
Discovering a Gospel-Oriented Lifestyle
Previously, I had differentiated between those I viewed as victims and those whose poor choices caused their own (and others’) suffering.
My heart easily sympathized with an orphan who had been abandoned, but I internally judged those with lives wrecked by drugs.
Suddenly, I knew I was wrong.
God’s compassion for these lost men crashed over my haughty heart, demolishing assumptions.
I had been no less willfully rebellious than these men.
We were all victims of Satan, who lied and lured us into his prison of sin.
That day the gospel of Jesus Christ broke my heart for the lost—all of them.
“Everyone you meet is either living or dead.”
These words, spoken by a missionary friend long before my revelation in Siberia, stick with me.
They remind me of the urgency of life and death.
God does not guarantee more time than the present moment to impart life-saving truth.
That’s why my broken heart prompted me to begin a gospel-oriented lifestyle.Everyone you meet is either living or dead in terms of salvation. Will you care enough to share the gospel with them?
Adopting a Gospel-Oriented Lifestyle
What is a gospel-oriented lifestyle?
“Gospel” stems from the Old Testament Hebrew word bisar.
According to Holman Bible Dictionary, this word evolved into the idea of declaring good news, often about victory in a battle.
By the time of Isaiah 52:7 HCSB, “the word [gospel] is most often used to describe the anticipated deliverance and salvation which would come from the hand of God when the long-awaited Messiah appeared to deliver Israel.”
Carried forward into the New Testament, the gospel came to be used as a noun meaning good news of Jesus.
But it still conveys the connotation that this good news should be announced or delivered.
A gospel-oriented lifestyle, then, must revolve around the good news of the victory Jesus has over death.
In this lifestyle, we take on the likeness of Christ.
We see with His eyes. Think with His mind. We love others with His heart.
Expectant readiness is the essence of a gospel-oriented lifestyle (1 Pt 3:15). God can use this attitude to reach the lost.A gospel-oriented lifestyle revolves around the good news of the victory Jesus has over death.
5 Reasons for a Gospel-Oriented Lifestyle
A study of God’s word reveals at least five reasons why we should seek to share the gospel every day.
1. The gospel-oriented lifestyle brings the dead to life.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek – Romans 1:16 HCSB
Would we avert our eyes and bypass a bleeding victim on the sidewalk in front of us (Lk 10:31-32)?
Then we must not withhold life-saving gospel intervention from those suffering internal, spiritual wounds.
We join God in bringing the dead to life by sharing the gospel with them.
2. The gospel-oriented lifestyle includes everyone.
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it.” – Luke 16:16 HCSB
Jesus’ words clearly state no one should be excluded from the gospel.
I learned the hard way that we cannot allow our biases to create a hierarchy of need for the gospel.
Our leading must be from the Holy Spirit, with whom there is no partiality.
God knows who will be eager to receive the gospel and who will reject it (2 Cor 3:4).
We are simply the mouthpieces of the gospel message.
3. God entrusts us with the gift of sharing the gospel.
Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 2:4 HCSB
Gifts are meant to be opened.
Nothing gives the Giver more joy than when we unwrap the gospel message and exalt it in our words and deeds.
We have been entrusted with the gospel not to keep it to ourselves, but to share it with others.We have been entrusted with the gospel not to keep it to ourselves, but to share it with others.
4. God calls us to prioritize the gospel.
But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. – Acts 20:24 HCSB
The rest of Paul’s life paled in comparison to his mission of testifying to the gospel.
Can we claim that sharing the gospel is our number-one priority?
Or are we distracted by hardships, and even the lesser joys, of life?
5. Jesus promises great rewards for the gospel-oriented lifestyle.
“I assure you,” Jesus said, “there is no one who has left house, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children, or fields because of Me and the gospel, who will not receive 100 times more, now at this time—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and eternal life in the age to come.” – Mark 10:29-30 HCSB
The world stands opposed to the gospel, so Jesus warns we will face hardships in response to its message.
But we also cling to Jesus’ promise.
Anything we lose for the sake of the gospel will be exponentially awarded to us on earth and throughout eternity.
The Journey of a Gospel-Oriented Lifestyle
In 2 Timothy 1:8a HCSB, Paul said, “So don’t be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”
Friends, God used that far-flung Siberian rehab to break my heart for all people.
What circumstances is He using to grow your appreciation of the centrality of the gospel message?
Will you orient your life so it naturally influences the lives of everyone you meet?
I do not claim to have perfectly achieved all that.
No, I am far from it.
But I encourage you to join me on the journey of a gospel-oriented lifestyle.
Annie Yorty is a writer, speaker, and lifelong learner. Annie writes at Perceive God, where her mission is to teach and encourage others to discover their true needs and find sources of support and hope. She applies this calling to many interests including disability advocacy, global missions, homeschooling, Bible teaching, and mentoring. Life in Pennsylvania is both fun and challenging with her high school sweetheart, two grown children (one with disabilities), a teen, and a furry beast (a.k.a. labradoodle). Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.