TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Peter 2:7-8 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• This week, it was announced that several brands, in an effort to be culturally sensitive, are changing their image: Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth’s, Cream of Wheat, and Land ‘O Lakes are all removing decades-long images, and in some cases, changing their names. This post isn’t about whether this is the right or wrong move. I’ve seen both support and outrage over this. And as I’ve thought about it, I can’t help but think of how we as Christians have been doing this same thing for years… trying to re-brand and re-package Christianity so we don’t come across as judgmental, insensitive, or offensive.
But the Bible IS offensive. There are verses upon verses that speak of it, including 1 Peter 2:7-8 which says, “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” But let’s table that…
Here’s the thing — we want to win souls for Jesus, but we don’t want to tell people they are sinners. That would offend them. So we focus on the love of Jesus. I don’t disagree that Jesus’ love is worthy of discussion and a valuable tool in evangelism… After all, it was the love of Jesus that kept Him nailed to a cross to die a horrific, grotesque, and agonizing death — for us. And there are some who, unquestionably, who will come to faith in Christ solely based on His love. And that’s wonderful! Amazing! We need to celebrate those!
But I want to show you today why we can’t re-brand Christianity entirely and we can’t worry about offending others with it. As previously stated, the Bible already says people will be offended so we can’t solely focus on “God is love.” We can’t leave out important details like these:
- We are all sinners who deserve death.
- We can’t earn our way to heaven.
- We are all in desperate need of a Savior.
Those are things we don’t want to talk about. After all, no one likes to be told they are wrong… that they aren’t enough… or that they can’t rely on themselves. Yet, I think of the words of Alice Cooper — yes, that Alice Cooper. He is a devout Christian and he said in an interview once, “I needed the hell scared out of me — literally.”
Here are the problems I see with sanitizing our evangelism too far in an effort to not offend:
- Pride can’t be humbled into humility when people aren’t made to understand how much they need Jesus. It’s not enough to simply WANT Him — we have to understand that we also NEED Him.
- Sinners can’t repent when we don’t fully appreciate our wrongdoings and how disdainful our sin is to a Holy God. And repentance isn’t just saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance is about changing behaviors and turning away from sin. How can we change if we don’t understand the magnitude of our offense?
- People can’t become fully dependent on God for everything if we don’t realize our desperate need for Him.
- People can’t fully appreciate God’s love until we understand His mercy and grace. There are some who need to understand the depravity of their sin before they can truly appreciate the magnitude of God’s love.
The Apostle Paul wrote the majority of the New Testament and while he wrote often of God’s love, he never skirted the issue of this truth: We are all sinners who need saving and that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 are my favorite verses and are the verses that inspired the name of my blog. They say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Paul also wrote, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22b). He met people where they were. He didn’t try to present Jesus in a way so others wouldn’t be offended. Given how many times the man was beaten, flogged, stoned, and even the way he was executed by beheading — I think we can all agree that plenty were offended by his words. But he focused on speaking truth. And the truth of the Gospel, includes both God’s love as well as His demand for justice. Usually, when we refer to “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” we stop. But let’s look at the verses that follow in Romans 3:23-26: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
It’s not about our goodness, it’s about God’s. Our sin caused a chasm that God Himself, in His love, rectified. And to fully understand that, we have to understand that His love isn’t because we deserve it… We don’t. But because God is good and loving and merciful, He gives it.
As we continue in our efforts for evangelism, and try to brand Christianity, let us remember that it’s more than “God is love.” It’s about “God is merciful,” too.
Today, as you pray, thank God that He is loving and merciful. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be truthful as you share Jesus with others — and to be bold enough to paint the whole picture that we are all sinners in need of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
SHARING ••• Please share with others! Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. ***Unless noted otherwise, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.