Gospel Metrics

by Tommy Rutledge
If you have made it thus far in this blog discipleship series, then you are already aware that all the discipleship answers have not been spoon fed to you. More than providing a 30-day pre-digested, add water-and-stir, spiritual diet for you to munch on, the goal has been to propose a boiler plate whereby any Christian or Church regardless of age, culture, size, demographic etc… could perform their own in-house audit around the critical questions of discipleship.

Discipleship is the timeless mandate of the local Church. While the majority of Churches now subscribe to this mandate [hallelujah!], establishing this process in-house through the local Church still remains much of an anomaly. This blog series has been the outworking of our own de-coding of this process. One of the explicit goals for every member of Soma Asheville has been to be able to answer these two basic questions:

"What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What does it mean to make a disciple of Jesus?"

We hope this blog series has provided a baseline to begin to answer these questions. The last aspect to our discipleship process at Soma Asheville is gospel metrics; measuring and evaluating fruit in accordance with the gospel.

It was the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates that said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Every person on some level, Christian and non-Christian alike, examines their life. Every person on some level also examines the lives of others. Opinions and judgments get thrown around every day. Your Church has a scorecard. The city I live in has an unspoken scorecard. Sometimes the scorecard is explicit. Many times it is not.

We want to be as explicit as possible in how we go about measuring and evaluating whether or not disciples are being made and reproduced in Jesus' name. We call this gospel metrics.

Gospel metrics evaluate life along the plane of the previous blog posts, watching closely for gospel clarity and gospel possession. Whether it's personal storywork, heart idolatries, areas of personal and cultural fluency or competency in Word and Spirit, we want to take adequate time to watch a person's life along these lines. We factor in both the interior and exterior life as well as age of spiritual maturity.

While this certainly means listening for gospel implications and applications, it also means being a patient observer of everyday life rhythms over time. There are no substitutes for doing life intimately together. Getting to know the true character of a person's real life means creating safe environments where authentic meaningful relational exchange can take place. Oh...one more thing. Plan on affliction and adversity being one of the distinguishing marks of fast track growth up into the gospel.

Gospel Metrics master the art of asking the right kinds of questions. The God of the Bible is an invitational God. He uses surgical-type questions to draw His Creation home. We take the same approach as we handle people's lives.

We began this blog series with the importance of storywork. Let's return there. The interpreted history called "your story" is decided on through a process of selection and elimination. What is important? Why this and not that? The questions you deem significant are determined by what you ultimately believe to be the point of the story. So what is the point of your story?

At Soma Asheville, we believe every story is beautiful, yet broken. We believe every story has inherent sanctity and dignity given by God. We use great care in how we handle each person's life. We believe God has a clear agenda to restore His glory back to the earth by saturating each person's story with the good news of the gospel.

One of my older wiser professors back in seminary once said, "More than right answers, the gift of seminary taught me to ask the right kinds of questions." Over the past few years, Soma Asheville has learned that good questions help point the trajectory of the soul back towards home.

Gospel metrics reject our human bias towards pigeonholing and stereotyping. Most of us at some point have been subjected to a cultural or religious scorecard that inflicted great harm while sanctioning the mishandling of the moment. Their faulty scorecard probably reinforced some stereotype while unfairly pigeon-holing you into their pre-packaged box. In the gospel accounts, the Pharisees had their religious scorecards. Tragically, they found Jesus desperately lacking according to their Messianic metrics.

Gospel metrics yield a newfound capacity to evaluate outside the box you were born into or the culture in which you grew up. Cultural entrenchment becomes less and less of an issue when the gospel is dynamically alive in the soul. Because the gospel also does not fit squarely into the political and social categories of the world [left/right, conservative/liberal, elite/hillbilly, rural/urban], true justice, fairness, and equity begin to flow out as surprising new opinions and judgments are formed, which leads to our next point.

Gospel Metrics begin with exclusive beliefs around Jesus and end with inclusive ethics towards neighbor. God's judgments and opinions from high courts of the Cross first says God is much holier than we dare comprehend. Second and with equal force, the Cross says God is much more loving than we dare comprehend. This double-edged sword displays an amazing ability to cut both ways.

Case in point: to move from an enemy of God to friendship with God meant Jesus moving from friendship with God to an enemy of God. To receive total acceptance from the Father meant Jesus' condemnation. To secure God's blessing freely flowing meant God's curse crushing His Son. When the full force of the gospel is finally comprehended in the soul, one's view of others gets transformed in a huge way.

Forgiveness begets forgiveness. Mercy begets mercy. And love begets love.

Relationships become much less about how I am treated and much more about how God chose to treat me at the Cross. Once the Law of justice has been enacted in judgment and forgiveness, the higher Law of mercy can now reign in relationship. This new logic creates metrics with end goals of love, truth, compassion, and mercy towards neighbor. Loving my neighbor becomes a sacred act unto God.

As Jesus dueled with the Pharisees in Matthew 12, His desire was for obedience over sacrifice so I end with this simple prayer: that God might grant us grace and courage to choose the harder road of internal obedience to Jesus and avoid the tempting shortcuts of outward sacrifice. Amen and amen.

Stay tuned in for our next blog series around the Easter corner.