Photo by Dot Communications
I don’t know about you, but I have zero tolerance for false advertisement. Some companies and corporations are very sneaky to put it mildly. They will advertise in their eye-catching ads about a huge sale or a real bargain, but when you walk in to the store, you quickly come to realize that there are “terms and conditions.” In other words, “read the fine print.” Even though they did not flat out lie to the consumer, they were not completely upfront either. Who reads the fine print anyways when the information to lure you in are all in red and huge letters?
This is how marketing works sometimes and it stinks. It leaves the consumer feeling a bit deceived and betrayed, especially when what is initially promised comes with “terms and conditions.”
I am the kind of person that likes everything upfront (in big letters). In this way, I can consider all the factors, count the cost, and then make an informed decision.
As I was thinking about this, I couldn’t help but to think that churches also engaged in “read the fine print” advertisement. How many times have we preached the Gospel by telling the pre-Christian that God loves them? How many times have we shared the Good News by informing the pre-Christian that God can forgive all their sins? How many times have we presented the message of salvation by telling the pre-Christian that God has an awesome plan for their lives?
While all these factors in presenting the Gospel are true, we rarely tell the pre-Christian about the “terms and conditions.” For starters, there is a clear call for repentance. There is also the call to a life of surrender. Jesus’ words are pretty straight forward. He states that no idols and gods can take greater allegiance or supremacy in a person’s life. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:37-39).
Christ takes it a step further and says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-36).
To follow Christ, it means to live a life of complete surrender. But this is hard to do when we live in a world of competing allegiances.
The Church of Jesus Christ is participating in somewhat of a spiritual false advertisement. When we only preach parts of the Gospel by eliminating the “hard” parts, then we do the pre-Christian and disservice. When we talk about how God loves them, but do not share about repentance and how Jesus demands their whole life, we are not giving them the full picture.
Why don’t we share the “fine print” when we share the Gospel?
This has been the downfall of the prosperity Gospel. This is why many so called “Christians” give up on their walk with Christ at the first sign of hardship or difficulty. This is why the statistics shows that the divorce rate is the same in the world as in the church. This is why many people get disillusioned when they have to finally grapple with the “fine print” as the Gospel demands their whole life. It even contributes to the many Christ-followers who are lukewarm in the church today.
We have given people the Gospel-lite version of Christianity and this is hurting the Church and our witness to the world.
My advice to pre-Christians: “Always read the fine print!”
My advice to the Church: “Enlarge the fine print so that everyone will know what they are getting themselves into when they decide to follow Christ.”