Why Losing Your Keys is a Gospel Issue

One of our shared values is the functional centrality of the gospel. We believe that every issue is, at the root, a gospel issue.

But sometimes it’s hard to see how that can be. What does the gospel of Jesus Christ have to do with everyday, mundane circumstances like being stuck in traffic, shoveling the driveway, or losing your keys? There are no Bible verses about such things, right? And they seem so… unspiritual.

The ability to see how the gospel relates to every issue in every moment is what we call gospel fluency.† See if this biblical insight helps you make the connection. 

Body & Soul

The Bible teaches that every human being comprises both a body and a soul. When God made Adam, he formed him out of the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, making him a living creature (Gen. 2:7).

It’s not that human beings exist as dualities with two parallel parts that never meet. Our nature is a unity; every person is one single person who consists of a unified body and soul. Louis Berkhof summarizes what Scripture says about human nature like this:

“Every act of man is seen as an act of the whole man. It is not the soul but man that sins; it is not the body but man that dies; and it is not merely the soul, but man, body and soul, that is redeemed in Christ” (emphasis added).‡

So it’s not just that you have a soul. You are a soul. And it’s not just that you have a body. You are a body. You are an embodied soul, or an ensouled body.

Out of the Heart

The Bible doesn’t tell us everything we might wonder about the relationship between the body and soul (Eccl. 11:5), but it does make clear that the soul (which Scripture also calls the heart, the spirit, or the mind) drives the body.

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

”And [Jesus] said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person’” (Mark 7:20–23).

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:12–13).

Gospel Fluency

A lot more could be said (and has been said by many theologians) on this topic, but here’s what it has to do with gospel fluency and your lost keys.

Because every human being is a spiritual being, then every imaginable situation humans find themselves in is a spiritual situation, and you can be sure there are spiritual issues going on.

Are you stuck in traffic? You are a soul stuck in traffic. The question is whether you are a patient or impatient soul.

Do you have six inches of snow to shovel? You are a soul shoveling that snow. Are you a content soul or a discontent soul?

How do you know whether an issue is a gospel issue? Just check to see whether there is a human present. If so, then you know that in addition to bread, water, and air, that person needs every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Lost Keys

Think about the last time you couldn’t find your keys. What was your tone of voice when you asked your spouse, “Have you seen the keys?” (I can think of too many times I’ve asked that question with more than a hint of accusation and annoyance, my tone revealing my heart.) 

What did your behavior actually look like to that fly on the wall as you looked through pockets and under stacks of mail and behind seat cushions? Was there huffing and puffing? Murmuring and complaining? Rising anxiety or anger?

It’s not that keys, whether lost or found, are a profoundly spiritual subject. Keys are inanimate objects. But the human who is looking for the keys, the human who is now going to be late to that appointment—that human is a spiritual being. 

And the state of our souls is always a gospel issue. That’s because—by nature and apart from Christ—our souls are fallen in Adam. When we sin with our tongues, our eyes, our hands, we sin from our hearts.

What we need is a Savior. And the gospel, the good news, is that there is a Savior. Our souls are fallen in Adam, but they can be redeemed in Jesus, the Last Adam, the one who “became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). The death of Jesus atones for every sin and the life of Jesus abounds with transforming grace for every situation in life. 

If you’ve ever sinned while searching for lost keys  it was because of what your heart was desiring and believing. One time it’s because we want convenience and find the scavenger hunt to be ill-timed and rather inconvenient. Another time it’s that we care most about what people think of us and fear that being late will knock us down a few rungs in their estimation.

Whatever the particular malady of your soul is, the remedy is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Repent by turning away from desiring anyone or anything more than Christ. Turn from the lies you are telling yourself. Then believe! That is, set your mind intently on some promise or truth from God’s Word and set your hope for heart satisfaction on Jesus alone. Trust that he is at work to sanctify you, that becoming like him while you search for the keys is more important than finding the keys.

Then go find your keys like someone who is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). And bear the fruit of the Spirit while you search. Those who watch (or help) your search will be blessed by the Spirit-empowered love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-24) that increasingly characterizes your life.

† Jeff Vanderstelt coined this term; see his book Gospel Fluency.

‡ Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 192.