The Convenient Gospel
If an individual is going to walk in the fullness of the good news of the gospel, they must be confronted with the full force of it’s truth. But, as pastors and church leaders we often withhold parts of the gospel because we’re unsure of how they’ll receive it. Will it scare them away? Will they like it? Will they come back to my church if I say that? But while love covers our sin, it never ignores the truth. If we withhold truth, we create an ill-equipped and passive church. In Acts we see Paul talking about having faith in Christ—something we all would claim to teach—but honestly, some of what he speaks about is rarely shared in many churches:
“Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “Thatʼs enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”” —Acts 24:24-25 NIV
There are a lot of reasons why Paul could have withheld some information from Felix, but even with the risk, he goes for it and brings an inconvenient gospel to his audience; and it makes them uncomfortable. Why? Was it because Paul was being harsh and rude and arrogant? No, it was because he was preaching the full truth of the gospel; this gospel that calls us to holy living, resisting self indulgence, and declares that we are accountable to God for our actions.
As a preacher, our goal isn’t to make people feel uncomfortable, our goal is to bring them the gospel. All of us have to come face to face with the truth of his ultimate authority in our lives, which is often uncomfortable because it requires that I deny myself, take up his way, and follow Jesus. Don’t shy away from calling unbelievers and believers to give everything and follow Jesus. If they never hear the truth, they’ll never be able to receive his love.
A legitimate question to consider would be, “when is the last time you as a pastor or the message from your guest preacher, caused the audience to be uncomfortable?” It’s not about condemning people, it’s about loving them enough to confront them with the truth so they’re lives can be transformed into all that God intended it to be. Love doesn’t condemn, but it never withholds the truth. Remember when they brought Jesus the woman caught in adultery? What did he do? He loved her, he didn’t condemn her, but then brought truth to her by saying, now “Go, and sin no more”.
Let’s commit to bringing the whole gospel to our churches, don’t hold back. You’ll find that some can’t handle it, like Felix in the verses we read, but it’s this full-devotion call to follow Jesus that turned the world upside down, which carried the gospel to you and me, and it’s only through that kind of passionate church that we’ll see the gospel continue!