Friday, October 2, 2015
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There are five Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke, John - and the Christian. Most people never read the first four. That observation, made a long time ago, could not be more true today.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Trouble With Christians - Part 2."
If our world's getting darker, then something must be wrong with what folks are "reading", in the Christians - the messengers - they know. We talked about that yesterday. And then there must be something wrong with their message. No, wait! Actually, with the way they represent the message.
That message is, as the Bible says is the "good news about Jesus" - the love that died for us, the power that crushed death. So the problem sure isn't the message. But the Good News doesn't sound as good when it's obscured by three mistakes that we messengers make.
Number one, our tone. So many unbelievers I know use some unwelcome words to describe Christians. You may have heard them: "angry", "you're judgmental", "you're condemning." Did you know up to 80% of communication is tone? Not what we say, but how we say it. So is our tone drowning out our message?
Jesus' main man, Simon Peter, seemed to learn that over time. Earlier, he was brash, he was explosive. But later, he said we should "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone...with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Is that how people feel when they're with us - "gentled" and "respected?" Is it our message folks are rejecting or our tone? This isn't about winning an argument. It's about winning a heart.
Then secondly, our retreat may be part of the problem our message gets obscured. We Jesus-followers have one authority for the message that changes eternities. It's God's Word. "All Scripture" the Bible calls it. And it says it is "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16).
But as our culture moves, Christians tend to move with it. Always keeping an apparently "righteous distance" but quickly ending up where non-believers were as little as ten years ago. And reinterpreting, rationalizing, diluting their source, the Bible, to justify their flexible "truth."
When we adjust our beliefs to placate our culture, we are no longer the choice Jesus called us to be. We're just an echo of our culture; losing the power of God's voice for some wimpy blend of Christianity and cultural appeasement.
As Martin Luther essentially stood against the whole world in his day, here was his anchor verse: "Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens" (Psalm 119:89). If it stands firm in the heavens, I can't change it on earth.
Thirdly, I think our message can be obscured by our baggage. The Gospel is compelling when it's just the Gospel. But some people never get to the Gospel because of the baggage we encumber it with: church, denomination, culture wars, rules, condemning people's lifestyles.
It's all about Jesus. Jesus made it all about Jesus with His simple invitation, "Follow Me" (Mark 1:17). "Come to Me" (Matthew 11:28). "Trust in Me" (John 14:1). That's why Paul, Jesus' greatest ambassador said in our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "I resolved when I was among you to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Charles Spurgeon said the Cross is "that magnificent magnet." Because "if they perceive (Spurgeon said) that He loved them and gave Himself for them, their hearts are stolen away."
That message, uncompromised, unencumbered, delivered with love, is what it has always been. Romans 1:16, "The power of God at work, saving everyone who believes". It's all about Jesus and His Cross. Stick to that!
Messengers who act like Jesus, a message that's all about Jesus. That is a bright light on an otherwise dark and dangerous stretch of beach.