March 11 I Sunday
“On hearing it, many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’… From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”
There are many things we do as part of the church that people who are not yet believers might misunderstand or even mock. They may be turned off by the terminology we use such as, “We are washed in the blood of the lamb,” or be bothered by the exclusiveness of our message. In an era where tolerance and differences are championed as two of society’s most important values, there are Christians who think the church needs to make some adjustments if it is going to survive.
There is wisdom in considering how to most effectively present the Gospel, but the danger of this discussion is that it frequently leads to reducing or removing what makes the church stand apart from the world at large. We may become so non-offensive, so non-confrontational and so non-different that we end up being non-effective. We dilute Christianity until it is simply asking Jesus into our hearts so we can go to heaven when we die. This is a fantastic invitation, but it does not address the root of humanity’s alienation from God or that Christ came to replace our corrupt human natures with His own nature.
Taken too far, this turns Christianity into just another worldview out of many. Church services become a Sunday morning gathering, no different than unbelievers meeting together to sing inspirational songs and listen to a secular speaker. Christianity becomes just another option, perhaps an unfavourable one with all its moral standards we are expected to uphold, rather than the life-saving, revolutionizing relationship with Jesus Christ it is meant to be.
Jesus never apologized when His preaching was not well received. He never ran after someone who took offence at His message and chose to walk away. He showed kindness and compassion wherever He went, but never once downplayed the truth to appease His listeners.
Parts of the Gospel will offend modern sensibilities. We can by all means look for new and creative ways to share the Gospel as long as we do not sacrifice truth in the process. Diluting the message of the Gospel may bring more people into our churches, but it will produce in them a shallow and wavering faith at best. Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16). Proclaiming the truth may affect our reputations, but when we faithfully preach Christ crucified and raised to life again so that He may indwell us, the Holy Spirit will work through this message to draw even the hardest of hearts to Himself.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for when I have diluted the truth to maintain my reputation. Grant me courage to proclaim the truth as it is, leaving the saving work to You. Thank You, God.