Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
More and more we hear preachers (Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar and the list goes on) preaching a very different gospel that Christ preached.
They preach on being rich, or at least not having any suffering. I remember hearing Benny Hinn even saying that if you are sick, it’s because of a lack of faith. The ironic part was, he was wearing glasses due to failing eye sight like most of us after a certain age.
I very often talk to people that claim they were Christians, but then they gave it up because they weren’t happy all the time.
The problem with preaching in North America (at least on a general scale) is that it’s sold as a bill of sale without issues.
It goes something like this. “Sir, you seem to have lots of things in your life, have you ever heard about Christ? He’s going to wash all your tears away, and make everything alright. If you have debt, he will help you clear them, heal sicknesses…”.
Not word per word, however the thought is there and this is the message portrayed. Then we have people that don’t want to believe in “religion” anymore because nothing of the above happened. And who can blame them?
When was the last time you bought a product, was told one thing, and the opposite happened and you went back to the same salesman and asked for something new? You would avoid that store, or at least that salesperson in fear of being taken again.
What’s the difference with Christ? If you are sold on a Christ that loves you no matter what and will fix all your problems, you have been sold a lie. Christ, according to the verse above, NEVER promised an easy life.
What he did promise however, is to walk through it with you. He will never give you more than you can handle. However, once the ordeal is done, you will be shocked in how much you could actually take.
When Christ said to take up your cross and follow him, he was speaking symbolically about his own cross. Imagine being nailed to it, then suffocating while hanging there. If you are to be a Christian, there are going to be some tough times. Some VERY tough times. You will feel that everyone has abandoned you. You will feel alone in the world. However, Christ is there. Even if we don’t physically see him, he’s never left our side.
If we told people more truth in the sermon. “sir, do you have any idea how good God is? Do you have any idea how bad we are? And do you have any idea how that’s a bad problem? Let me present you Christ, the one that can reconcile us. We must repent of our sins against him and accept Christ as our savior, while not making life easy, restores us to God, and saves us from His wrath toward us for offending him”. While most conversations with unbelievers can last minutes to years, this is a more accurate description of the gospel.
It won’t make you any friends, but this is the method God has used to save his flock.