One of my favorite movie characters by the name of Curly from the movie "City Slickers" with his Marlboro Man finger skyward pointed asks Mitch Robbins "do you know what the secret to life is?" to which Mitch replies, "your finger"? "One thing" Curly exclaims! "You stick to that and everything else don’t mean ****!"
Although I’m sorry to allude to such a crude movie quote to make my point about the gospel, I’m not sorry to say that the church has "one thing" to stick to! Once we do, everything else…well…never mind.
I admit it. I fell into the trap years ago. In order that I might rebel against the spirit of legalism, I nearly threw the baby out with the bathwater. The water of fundamentalism as I experienced it was a horrible stench. Even the lost world came to this conclusion well before the very church that bathed in it. Once the church at large started to smell herself, she went to great lengths to clean herself up. (therein lies the problem)
"The world won’t hear the gospel because of our pride and our attitudes" we rightly recognized. So we pursued solutions instead of God. We tried techniques and methods, instead of a prostrate position before Christ. We blamed our fundamentalist, legalistic preachers instead of standing up and taking responsibility ourselves. We abandoned the pastor-shepherd for the Administrative CEO/Manager. In hope that we might not be as offensive as the ones before us, we took the offense out of the message. To compensate for arrogance from the pulpit, we painted God as sin-tolerant. Instead of proclaiming the gospel that tells us we won’t get any better, we supplanted it with a message on how to be a better you. (morality)
Instead of telling the world that there is "none righteous, none that seeks after God", we informed them that they were "seekers". Instead of preaching the relevant gospel we sought the counsel of the ones we called seekers and served up messages they find relevant. Instead of equipping Christians with the Gospel so they can evangelize the world in which they live, we are preaching morality so they can actually have NO effect on the world in which they live.
Does our music need new wine skins? Yes! Must we know our culture in order to reach them! Yes! Do we need to better communicate the gospel so that it is accessible (understandable) to the un-churched? Yes! Should we keep an open mind to technological advances as they relate to improved communication of the message? Yes! Are any of these things the gospel? NO!
Do our pastors love people or the culture? Where is their passion? Is it invested in their careers as Pastor/CEO, or is it invested in the scripture, in Christ!
Let me leave you with the words from a sermon by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As a church, we must get back to our God sanctioned role as proclaimers of the Gospel. We need to proclaim "One Thing". All other messages of morals and principles are powerless.
"Our only message to those who are in the world is to repent and to believe the gospel! Nothing else. There is no hope for the world outside Christ, none whatsoever! There is no improvement predicted or prophesied for the world, none whatsoever! There is no greater error or heresy than to think it is the business of Christian preaching to improve the world somewhat! It’s a denial of the gospel! The idea that it is the business of the church to recommend Christian principles to the world and plead with it and ask to put it into practice. To send messages to statesmen and ask them to put it into practice, I say is a denial of this. The only message of the gospel to the world is to tell it to repent because it’s under the wrath of God and unless it repents it’s lost eternally! There is no message I say but repent and believe! The world that is without Christ is entirely without hope!