Watering down the gospel… a view from the pew
In today’s world it seems like everyone’s a winner. All you have to do is just try, and you’ll get an award and a pat on the back. You don’t need to be the best to get recognized, all you have to do is compete. While it may stop the tears of losing at the moment, it is doing far more damage then we realize. Our society is teaching a false reality that everyone is a winner. I believe that we are even starting to see the effects of it today with all of the safe zones at schools and professors canceling finals for students because they were “traumatized” by the election outcomes. By teaching this mentality, we are enabling kids and setting them up for failure. Tell me what jobs allow you to “come in last” and still let you keep your job and give you a raise. That’s the picture that we are painting for children, today. They need to know the truth, and sometimes the truth is that you don’t always win and get your way. No not everyone is a winner; in fact I think losing is one of the best things that can happen to someone. Losing builds character, and without losing, winning isn’t so great.
Fifty years ago this was not happening. Yet we have allowed a dangerous tolerance for everyone’s feelings and it is having a catastrophic impact on our society without us even realizing it. Does everyone have an opinion? Yes, but is everyone right? No! Life is not often easy, but we need to face that reality and be okay with that.Our society teaches to live comfortably and I believe the gospel often follows. I believe that we have started letting the way society views “everyone being a winner,” float into our gospel message. We have started preaching comfort theology above all. Churches today seem to be so focused on God’s forgiveness and love for people, that they loose sight of the harsh reality of how much God hates sin and the majority of this world’s eternal destination are in hell.
We preach that all one has to do is pray this prayer and accept Jesus into our heart so we can go to Heaven. It’s as if we believe today that everyone needs to just say this in order to be eternally secure. David Platt says, “should it not concern us that there is no such superstitious prayer in the New Testament?” He later goes on to say that this idea of just a prayer for eternal security is modern evangelism that is set on sinking sand. The false perception of the gospel is in danger of disillusioning millions of souls. This idea of the gospel costing nothing but time to say a thirty second prayer couldn’t be further than the truth. We need to wake up as a church and go back to the basics of what the Bible says. If this is what we believe the gospel to be then how do we deal with verses like Luke 14:33, which says, “ So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Or Luke 12:33, which says, “sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” These verses are fixed on having an eternal mindset, for we are called to sacrifice now so that we may have an eternal reward. One cannot say that these verses are simply a cultural calling, as we seem to do with several other verses. While actions and good works are not what get us to heaven, they do show that we have faith. James calls “faith without works dead.” Nearly every disciple was brutally martyred for his faith. The apostles were crucified, thrown off cliffs, tortured, stoned, stabbed, beheaded, whipped, and thrown into boiling oil, yet all refused to denounce their faith during their time of persecution. Our founding fathers of the church gave up their lives and as Matthew 16:24 talks about, they denied themselves and their ambitions, and took up their cross to follow Christ. How can these men give up their families, goals, hobbies, bodies, and ultimately their lives, and still refuse to denounce that they know Christ and believe in His plans? Yet today in America we are called a Christian when we simply go to church for two hours every Sunday. Reading the accounts of the disciple’s deaths, made me humbled to put myself on that level of calling myself a Christian too. How can one have the same eternal reward by going to heaven today, by simply putting God on the back burner?
As a church I believe we have started to create our own concept of the gospel that is comfortable for us. Our relationship with Christ is put behind our work, family, and hobbies. I don’t find any biblical grounds for this concept. In my humble opinion it comes down to one thing. Wanting our plans to be fulfilled, more than Christ’s plan for us. It is no secret that there is a price for following Christ. We see this time and time again in the Bible. Yet today how have we fallen so short of that price?
So lets take a fresh look of what the Bible says. Not what our pastor says, our church says, or our culture says. I don’t know about you, but when reading through the Bible I see a reoccurring theme. Faith in Christ requires complete faith, in our hearts, mind, and actions. However, when it’s all said and done, it’s always worth it in the end. So let’s count the costs. True Christianity will cost one’s ambitions, time, talents, possessions, and favor from the world. Seems like quite the cost to give up ones life for ones faith in Christ. So one must ask themselves if it is worth it. For what is the reward? Well as if heaven isn’t enough of a reward for our lives, God gives us more. He gives us joy in this world through our suffering. He also gives us contentment and fulfillment in a world that looks for these satisfactions in other things like wealth, sex, and partying.
As Christians we are called to a higher purpose in life. Not everyone is going to heaven, and as a church we need to wake up and see that. Without sounding legalistic and judging, I believe our gospel message is “pathetic” compared to what it used to be. But it can stop here. Future generations can look at our generation how we look at the apostles and what they did for Christianity. May God give us such a passion and desire to serve Him that it comes before our individual passions desires for ours lives. May we go back to what the Bible says and not what our pastor says. Stephen Grunlan says “ a frequent tendency is to hold religious leaders, our spiritual mentors, responsible for any neglect of the challenge aspect of the gospel,” (pg 261). For Christianity is so much more than a two-hour church service and a half hearted sinner’s prayer. We as a church need to wake up and see what real Christianity looks like. Ernst Troeltsch in the book Christian Perspectives on Sociology describes churches today as “ less demanding of members, less biblically focused, and more hierarchical than sects,” (pg. 258). It might be “offensive” to others, but that’s okay because we live in a society that is offended by everything. We are called to not care what our world thinks, but to simply care about what our Savior thinks. Christianity isn’t just a religion; it’s a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. So will you commit with me to stop being scared to offend our society about Christianity? Can we stand up for what we believe in and not let our culture dictate that? The harsh reality is there are no participation awards in Christianity. I do not believe one gets to go to heaven if they say a prayer, go to church and that’s where their Christianity ends. Friends is that’s what we call Christianity, then I believe we are missing the point. We are called to give up everything, so that one day we may gain everything. C.S Lewis says, “For you will certainly carry out God’s purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”
Grunlan, S (Ed.). Christian Perspectives on Sociology. Reprint edition, Eugune, OR: Wipf & Stock Pub. 2001
Plattm David. “Why “Accepting Jesus In Your Heart” is Superstitous & Unbiblical.” Verge Network. N.p., 15 Dec. 2015. Web 12 Feb. 2017
“3 ways we ‘Water Down’ the Gospel.” HelloChristian. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.