Uncommon Ground 5-Day Devotional by Tim Keller and John Inazu


 The Pastor: Timothy Keller

The gospel removes pride, probably the greatest barrier to a sensitive yet clear exchange of ideas. It tells us we are sinners saved only by God’s grace, not because we are wiser or better than anyone. It tells us that we must never think we are beyond sin and the need for repentance and renewal. There’s the humility we need.

The gospel removes cynicism and pessimism as well. It gives real hope that people’s eyes can be opened and change can happen. If we look at anyone and say, “That person is not the kind of person who will ever see the truth,” then we contradict the gospel teaching that there is no “kind of person” who sees the truth. “There is no one who seeks God,” says Romans 3:11, and therefore our faith and understanding is only due to God’s intervention. God can (and does) work with any kind of person. We should, therefore, never think anyone is beyond hope of change. That gives us the patience we need, grounded in hope.

The gospel removes indifference. In Matthew 5:43–47, Jesus told his disciples that, since God gives good things to all people—“the righteous and . . . the unrighteous”—we should love and welcome everyone. In 1 John 3:16, we are told that since Christ laid down his life for us, we should lay down our lives for others. For Christians, the uncomfortable question is this: If we have been loved despite our flaws, and if we have discovered the greatest thing in the world in Christ, how can we be either abrasive or quiet about it? That knowledge produces the tolerance, but more than that, it produces the love we need.

Lastly, the gospel removes fear. While we should be concerned to not needlessly offend people, the assurance of God’s love and acceptance should give us the courage to face criticism and disapproval.

There are four habits of the heart, then, required for a peaceful, mutually beneficial exchange of ideas between people who are deeply different. The same four traits are also necessary for any fruitful sharing of the faith with non believers. The four major reasons for evangelistic unfruitfulness are a lack of humility, of hope, of love, and of courage. The gospel supplies all these things, if it is truly believed, understood, and rejoiced in.