Thursday, August 21, 2008

WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE

Christ’s church has never been approved or accepted by the world. And it never will be. If you live for Jesus, you won’t have to separate yourself from other’s company; they’ll do it for you. All you have to do is live for him. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself reproached, rejected, called evil: “Men shall hate you, and…they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake” (Luke 6:22).

Yet, Jesus adds, this is the path to true fulfillment. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25). In other words: “The only way you find meaning in life is by selling out your all for me. Then you’ll find true joy, peace and satisfaction.” Christ tells us, “My church is without spot or wrinkle. So, when you come to me, you must be willing to lay down all sins. You must surrender all to me, die completely to self, ungodly ambition and ego. By faith, you’ll be buried with me. But I will raise you up into new life.”

Think about what it means to be without spot or wrinkle. We know a spot is a stain. But what about a wrinkle? Have you ever heard the phrase, “a new wrinkle”? It means adding a new idea to an existing concept. A wrinkle, in that sense, applies to those who try to improve on the gospel. It suggests an easy way to attain heaven, without full surrender to Christ.

That’s the kind of gospel that’s being preached in many churches today. The sermons are aimed only at meeting people’s needs. As I read Jesus’ words, I see that this kind of preaching will not work. It doesn’t accomplish the true work of the gospel.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m not against preaching comfort and strength to God’s people. As a shepherd of the Lord, I’m called to do exactly that. But if I preach only to people’s needs, and ignore Christ’s call to lay down our lives, then true needs will never be met. Jesus’ words are clear: Our needs are met by dying to ourselves and taking up his cross