“If people like us, they’ll like Jesus too. If they think we’re cool, they’ll think Jesus is cool too.” Such is the wisdom of the world. Such is the way the church thinks all too often.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are,  so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor. 1:27-29)
Why is it that when a celebrity – whether an actor, musician, or sports star becomes a Christian, we immediately want to parade them around in front of the world? They are immediately put on the speaking circuit, often without any preparation, study, etc., at all. Is it perhaps because we are thinking that, “If the world sees that we have “so-and-so” on our team, they’ll have to take notice of us”? It’s the same mentality of sitting at the “cool table” in middle school. We hope we’ll be “cool” by association. And if they think we’re cool – they’ll think Jesus is cool too.
Gone is the offense of the Cross – of our message. In verse 17, Paul wrote,
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
If the church isn’t parading celebrities or local sports heroes around like King Tut’s fortune, then it’s very often genuflecting toward Madison Avenue, asking the PR gurus what sells. And what never sells is a hard message. The sharp angles must first be sanded down so as not to stick would-be seekers. Rather than heed Scripture and trust God, we seek to rob God of his message – his only message for a dark, decaying and lost world – and replace it with our own. We empty the cross of its power by our words of human wisdom. Like a magician or confidence man, we engage in misdirection with our audience, hoping that they won’t see the real Jesus and his Cross under the trapdoor.
For a variety of reasons, we all too often neuter and distort the message of the Gospel beyond all recognition. We ask seekers to just “add Jesus” to their lives. After all, just like Coca Cola, things go better with Jesus. No dying to self – no cross-carrying – no hell or wrath; it’s easy believism for everyone. (And don’t forget about our celebrities.) Message to world: Not only are we cool, but we’re so easy to get along with too.
It must be asked if the “Jesus” being presented to thousands today is the Jesus of Holy Scripture. Is it the same gospel at all? If you are persecuted (as Jesus promises to those who follow him), if you are ashamed of his gospel from time to time, if you occasionally offend someone simply by stating the gospel – then chances are awfully good that you have that which is considered “foolishness to those who are perishing.”
On the other hand, if you’ve never felt ashamed, never been persecuted, never once offended a person by merely declaring the message of Christ and his Cross, then it must be asked, “What exactly have you been sharing?”
Make no mistake about it; the Gospel of Jesus Christ – in all its fullness – is an offense and stumbling block. But to those who are being saved it is the power of God – it’s majestic – it’s beauty incarnate – it’s precious and lovely – it’s indescribable.
Let’s resolve not to “improve” upon God’s message once for all delivered to the saints. Mind you, we don’t need to rush out and become Jerks for Jesus as we share it. Instead, let’s be winsome, compassionate, persuasive, and wear big smiles on our faces. But let’s not alter the message to gain social acceptance like a high school freshman smoking a cigarette. Let’s trust God. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Cor. 1:25).
Grace and Truth,