May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 6:14 (NIV)
Throughout history, there have been three versions of Christianity—one that centers on the individual, one that centers on the church, and one that centers on Jesus Christ.
The self-centered gospel is about what you can discover. It goes like this, “The truth lies within you.” Many people would rather view Jesus as a teacher who enlightens us than a savior who delivers us. Paul utterly rejected this gospel. Without Jesus’ death for us and His life in us, we would still be sin’s slave. Our great need is not for enlightenment, but for salvation.
The church-centered gospel goes like this, “It’s great that your sins have been forgiven, but what you really need is to learn how to live the Christian life. We have the tools, and we will give them to you if you join us.” You see what has happened—the central focus has moved. The focus is on what these people can do for me by giving me spiritual tools. “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation” (6:15).
In the Christ-centered gospel, God did for us what we could never do for ourselves or for each other. “God sent his Son, born of a woman…to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (4:4-5).
When Paul says, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” his central concern is “Who gets the glory?” If we ask the question Who gets the glory in these three versions of Christianity? the answer is obvious—in the self-centered gospel, you do; in the church-centered gospel, we do; and in the Christ-centered (and true) gospel, Jesus does.
As you reflect on your own experience of Christianity, who gets the glory?