Friday, May 18, 2012

Designer Pop Gospel verses Counting the Cost

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Luke 14:28-30 (KJV)

If you are considering coming to Jesus, you have to count the cost.  Have you?  Do you even understand there is a price to pay?  We know what the price is because the Bible tells us clearly and repeatedly:  self denial, taking up your cross, losing your life, loving Christ supremely above your families or even your own life, and forsaking all.  That’s how devoted we have to be.

Now comes the issue of easy believism and pop culture within Christianity.  People don’t buy into Christianity if it’s too hard.  If it doesn’t meet their needs, they won’t be interested.  If they want six fruit flavors and you offer only two, you’ve lost them.  They need a Christianity that tastes great and offers options.

The first rule of marketing is to give consumers what they want.  If they want bigger burgers, make them bigger.  Designer bottled water in six fruit flavors?  Done.  Minivans with ten cup holders?  Give them twenty.  You’ve got to keep the customer satisfied.  You’ve got to modify your product and your message to meet their needs if you want a market share.

This same consumer mentality has invaded the church.  Need more programs?  Done.  Need more options to choose from on the ministry menu?  Done.  Whatever you need, we’ll provide it for you!  And if the message is too confrontational, too hard, too exclusive, too scary, uncomfortable, we’ll adjust that too.  After all, the only goal is to keep you happy. 

This version of Christianity makes you a partner on the team, a design consultant on church life, and does away with old-fashioned authority, accountability, and moral absolutes.

It’s Christianity for consumers.  Christianity Lite.  And it misrepresents the Bible.  The true gospel is a call to self-denial.  It’s not a call to self-fulfillment.  Christianity has become a “get what you want” rather than a “give up everything” movement.  God’s glory has been replaced with the satisfaction of man as the main priority.

What happens when we offer a consumer version of the gospel?  People take the bait and think, “Hey, this Christianity thing is not hard at all.  Meet nice people, hear an inspiring message, some cool music, get to heaven.”  But at some point the truth comes out.  The hard words of Jesus thunder forth:  It’s not about you, it’s about Me and sacrificing yourself to follow Me!”

It’s absolutely true that almost nobody is going to want to become a Christian under those terms, unless the Spirit of God is working in his/her heart.  Unless the Holy Spirit is doing His work of conviction and drawing a person to Christ, nothing is going to happen, no matter what we do. 

Conversely, when a person is being drawn by the Spirit of God they will want to know the truth, undiluted.  They won’t need smoke bombs, flashing lights, nine different flavors, or a full menu of ministry options.  And then only the message of Jesus, connected to the work of the Spirit, will produce true salvation.

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