as any pastor can tell you, the amount of weekly ” preacher junk mail” can be staggering. i am convinced that catalogues full of merchandise guaranteed to “grow my church” that come to my church or my home address are the single largest cause of deforestation.

in a sad commentary on how much we are willing to compromise the gospel in order to get people in the pews, i present to you one such product.. meant to be mailed out close to easter to get the unchurched in to church on easter sunday.

even worse, here is the “suggested message” for the reverse side of the card:

discover a love that was all about you
the ‘me’ generation, myspace, ipods, internet
sites that instantly recognize your login and
preferences-in this day and age the focus
seems to be on self. and, sometimes we
question whether that is a good thing. but, on
easter long ago, even god made it all about you.
jesus came to earth out of a great love-for you.
join us this easter at (your church name)
as we make it all about you-in the very best of ways.

i am not at all opposed to missions and evangelism. how could i be? our lord commands it, and christian love compels it. i am not opposed to unbelievers coming to my church. i have visited many homes and written many letters in hopes that they would.

but i draw the line at compromising the gospel in order to convince someone to come to church. the church does not exist to make much of man, but to make much of the glory of god.

yes, i believe john 3:16, as well as the many, many other verses that speak of god’s love for us are 100% true. the lord has a greater love for his children than we could ever imagine. but the cross was not first and foremost about me or you. it was and is about god.

you see, the gospel is not “jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life“. the gospel is not “come to jesus and he will take away all of your troubles“. you will not find those presentations of the gospel anywhere in scripture. we need to stop getting our theology from cheesey christian music lyrics and bumper stickers and get the gospel from the bible.

every person who has ever been born, has been born a sinner, an enemy of god and an object of god’s wrath deserving of hell by virtue of their being a sinner. that is biblical fact. (rom. 3:10-12;6:23; john 3:36; eph. 2:3)

gospel means “good news”. the good news is not that we were so lovable that god saved us from bad circumstances. the good news is that “… while we were yet sinners, christ died for us.” (rom. 5:8) we deserved the wrath of god, but jesus went to the cross to appease that wrath, to endure the punishment, so that “whosoever would believe in him” would have eternal life. (rom. 3:21-25 ; john 3:16) jesus took on the consequences of sin, and his righteousness is credited to the believer.(1 peter 3:18)

so what happens when we tell the unbeliever that easter and the cross is all about them? they come to our church and find that we sing songs about, pray to, give money to, and (hopefully) preach about christ, *not* them. we have given them false advertisement. we promised to make much of them, then fell through on our end of the deal. then we scratch our heads and wonder why they don’t come back.

yes, salvation is a sign of the love god has for us, but the cross is not about *us*. the cross makes much of god’s justice and mercy and glory and grace. god gets the glory, and we get the benefit. the cross is about the wonder of an infinitely holy god providing salvation for unworthy sinners who deserve nothing but justice-hell.

so let us be honest about the gospel. by all means, we should evangelize. but the good news is not “its all about you”.
the good news is that:

“though we are all sinners who deserve nothing but hell, christ has died so that if anyone will repent of their sins and believe that he is the lord of lords, who lived a perfect life, was crucified, died, and was buried, and on the third day rose again, having satisfied the wrath of god for their sins and having his righteousness applied to them, then they can be saved”. (rom. 5:18;10:9)

*that* is the gospel. it needs to be shared indiscrimmantly with everyone. it is a matter of life and death, and we dare not get it wrong.