For years, the Gospel that most have been exposed to is one that has emphasized personal sin, and, therefore, the need for personal forgiveness by a personal Savior. In short, the message has been one that centers around the individual and his need for saving. When this message became twisted, distorted, and turned into a hell-happy, condemnation circus, naturally, the feelings of personal guilt, and individual condemnation became overwhelming and excruciating. After all, the whole message was focused on the individual, and so when it went awry it wreaked havoc on our individuality.
In the name of course correction, many have adopted a grace message which, while containing truth, is simply an opposite, but equally individual-centered message. It takes away the individual's sense of guilt and feelings of condemnation, and leaves them feeling free as a bird! The euphoria that one experiences is similar to that which a newly licensed 16 year old driver feels while taking their first solo drive in their new car. The problem, however, is that the individual self remains at the center of the message, leaving people open to the misunderstanding that they are now free to do certain things without worrying about how it affects others. "I'm free!", many cry, but the sad truth is that they have simply traded personal condemnation for a personal freedom that can quickly become as much of a snare as was the condemnation.
The Grace exhibited in the life of Jesus was not one that indulged personal freedom at the expense of others. No! It was an others-centered love that would do anything for the betterment of another. Paul, the apostle of Grace, spoke of the necessity of serving our spouses, submitting to parents, governmental authorities and the like, not because he was a hardnosed "law" preacher (as if!) but because the Jesus type of Grace empowers us to be others-centered, and to lay our lives down for the betterment of others. The Grace revealed by Jesus causes us to love and live for the "other" and not simply for ourselves!
The false Gospel of personal condemnation, however, has created an imbalanced response that only emphasizes personal freedom. You are free, don't get me wrong, and God is *NOT* a demented Santa Claus who makes lists, checks twice, and always finds you to be naughty rather than nice. He is Love! And Love keeps no record of wrongs. However, Love, when internalized and experienced, becomes manifest through a life of others-centeredness. It will cause you to delight in emulating Christ's example and in giving of yourself for the benefit of others. While some would label such a thing "law", it's actually the fruit of experienced love.
Dear friends, the Gospel is not primarily a message about individual sin, salvation and freedom! It's a message about humanity, and about how God sees the world. When it becomes active in our lives we will naturally shed all forms of self-centeredness, and burn to live for the betterment of others - and we'll love every minute of it, by the way!