Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why We Water Down the Gospel

Why are so many Christians in America trying to make the gospel more palatable to a fallen, sinful world? I think there are many reasons, but let's just look at a couple.

First, there's pride. We realize that the gospel itself is offensive. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Christ as one who would be "a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling" (Isaiah 8:14). We also know that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), but we don't really want to take that message to the people. Couldn't we just show people how much better their lives could be with Christ in control? Why not focus our attention on the positive aspects of Christianity? In short, we think we can come up with a better way of presenting the gospel than how it's actually presented in scripture.

The apostle Paul, however, warned against removing "the offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11). Scripture is clear. If we preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, we will offend unbelievers -- and even some believers. It's a given.

Another reason we water down the gospel is fear. We love ourselves and don't want to be made to suffer for our beliefs. The bearers of offensive news typically aren't received very well. Look at what happens to Christians all over the world when they run into opposition. They are ridiculed. They are insulted. They are imprisoned. They are even killed. Who in their right mind would put themselves in such a vulnerable position?

Fortunately, he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). Paul, having been persecuted himself for the sake of Christ, offered this exhortation: "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8).

May I learn to trust in my Lord and Savior for that kind of courage when it comes to sharing his gospel.

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