There is a phrase that has stuck with me that my director used during staff training week during my first summer working as a counselor at summer camp. We were learning how to effectively run each of the activities that the campers would participate in that summer and our director told us to remember:
"Safety first, safety last, and safety in the middle."
This was different than the typical "safety first" phrase I had often heard of when it came to safety training. Instead of only safety to begin with, this motto called us as staffers to let it be the undercurrent of all that we did that summer.
We might be sending campers down water slides, taking them on canoe trips, or teaching them archery. And while every one of those activities exists at camp for the campers to have fun and to learn and grow, as counselors we knew that for them to have fun and to learn and grow, they always had to be safe.
I see a correlation between the only "safety first" approach in the way that we as believers often approach our lives.
All Christians want to believe that Christ and the gospel come first in their hearts and lives but often it is a fore thought that doesn't carry throughout our days.
This leads me to wonder the difference that we would see in our lives and our witness if instead of just "the gospel first", we approached it as,
"The gospel first, the gospel last, and the gospel in the middle."
The hope of the good news of Jesus Christ should be the undercurrent of all that we do.
The gospel should be first.
It should be the reason that we approach things the way that we do. Christ's death and resurrection are the reason that we can live out of hope, joy, and love. The gospel is our starting point and our guidepost for all that we do.
The gospel should be last.
It is the reason that we have the hope of eternity and do not fear the grave. Death is the greatest blow that sin can deal in this world. The good news of Jesus allows us to offer hope to a world that grieves as though there is none. But there is hope! Hope of eternal life with God and with those that have faith in him. How could we stay quiet about that type of hope?
The gospel should be in the middle.
This is the hardest of the three because the gospel in the middle means that our daily lives are geared toward living out the message of Christ. So often, what we talk about, share about on social media, and fill our days doing are things that pale in importance to the gospel.
Do we talk about politics every day?
Do we share our hobbies on our instagram each week?
Do we spend our evenings bingeing new shows?
None of these things are wrong to do. But do these things matter more to us than the gospel?
When we fully grasp the truth that our hope is sure and our worth is secure in Christ we are propelled to use every opportunity for the gospel because we desire for everyone we know to have the same assurance.
The good news of Jesus can be the undercurrent throughout all that we do. And we can choose to share it more than we do anything else. More than politics, vaccine stances, fashion, fitness, homemaking, hobbies, or any other thing of this world.
The Gospel first, the gospel last, and the gospel in the middle.
" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."
-1 Corinthians 15:56-58