Not Another Gimmick, Please!

This morning I saw a sign at a church that said, “10 10 10 is coming .com.” They had it all spread out like that, I guess so we could make it out without having a wreck while trying to read it. I wanted to look it up but I figured if I didn’t write it down I’d forget, so I reached in the side pocket of my purse, took out a pen and wrote “10” on top of my hand to remind myself. There is a big ditch on the side of the road that I was careful not to veer toward as I did this, and something about the blind leading the blind and both falling into a ditch came to mind.

I looked it up. Oh, please, no. It’s another gimmick some churches are going to use to try to draw attention to the fact that Jesus is perfect. To their credit, they do point out that He is the Perfect Sacrifice for redemption. However, redemption from what, they don’t say. They are also saying that without Him we are a zero, and when we stand next to Him, our “hero” and “champion”, we’re made perfect – like a perfect 10 in the Olympics. And they are using the date, the 10th day of the 10th month of 2010 as the, uh, anchor? for this. The website also says each month has a 10th day so this can go on and on… Ugh. That’s the gospel?! Not hardly. It barely scrapes the surface. That’s a way to sell t-shirts and caps and help out the billboard companies. Reminds me of the “I Found It” thing in 1976 and the more recent “WWJD” bracelets and other assorted Jesus Junk that was sold to promote that one.

Come on, pastors, wake up! I understand that the intention of this whole thing is (not to sell a bunch more Jesus Junk – yeah, sure) to open doors to share the gospel. But, Jesus didn’t say, “Come stand next to me and I’ll make you perfect,” which to the lost just sounds like He makes us look good. Gimmicks don’t attract a world jaded by gimmicks. Most folks are sick to death of slick this and jazzy that.

Jesus calls us to be washed from our sin by His sacrifice on the cross. If we look foolish for any reason, it ought to be because we preach this religion of blood sacrifice for sin and not because we are truly acting foolish. We are called to repent of our sin and take up our cross and follow Him. My Bible has some footnotes to this that explain that we are not only to identify with Christ, but we are to “completely abandon the natural desire to seek comfort, fame, or power.” It’s not about making us more than “zero.” It’s about dying to self. And it’s hard. I’ve heard, and it’s true, that if we don’t come out with that right up front, we’re pulling a bait and switch.

When we remember what we live for – His glory and not our own, and His Kingdom and not our personal this and that – we will have our perspective changed. This is what will attract folks’ attention. Peter didn’t say to cook up an attractive ad campaign or jump on a bandwagon. He said to be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us. When our perspective is changed, when we know our sins are forgiven and this world is not our permanent home, we really will stand out among the rest of the world. This isn’t a flashy way to “open doors.”  This is the slow and steady way that the Kingdom of God is increased.

So, come on, pastors. Please preach the gospel according to the Bible and not the latest fads. Your people need nourishment so they will know not to fall for gimmicks that trivialize Jesus in the eyes of unbelievers. How can we expect an unbeliever to have respect for our God if we treat Him like an attraction in a sideshow? Congregations need to be taught how to follow Jesus by taking up the cross. And doctrine ought to be taught so Christians will know how to explain their beliefs. Jesus paid too much for our salvation for us to be spending time on foolishness.

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