My husband likes bold flavors; so do I. Ever since I started making burgers at home — with peppers, onions, garlic, all that great stuff mixed right in — I can barely stomach the bland burger joints. But, if a burger joint is my only option, it has to be covered in all sorts of extras to bump up the flavor — pickles, onions, sauces, etc. Meanwhile, when I make burgers at home, my husband refuses to put much of anything on them because he says it messes up the big, bold flavors already there. He wants it served plain. That’s how I view the gospel. It’s big, and bold, and adding other things just messes it up. The gospel, served plain, is enough. Christ, alone, is enough. I want to be constrained to this one thing: Jesus Christ, and that Christ crucified.
So often we Christians set forth with behavior modification plans, seeming to believe that our goal is to correct the minutia of each others’ behaviors. We even seem to spend more time arguing doctrinal beliefs with professed believers of God than introducing a Risen Savior to a dying world. That just messes up the flavor. Lift Christ, exalt Christ, magnify Christ, point to a crucified, risen, and returning Savior! Heart Check: If the people we’re engaging don’t gain a better glimpse of a crucified Christ, or have a richer experience with a Risen Lord, or yearn more deeply for a returning Savior, what have we really gained?
Live like somebody died for you!
Policing and modifying others’ behaviors won’t teach them of a crucified Christ and won’t coax them into relationship with Him. Exemplify Him who was reviled but didn’t respond with contempt. Live like somebody died for you! Cry out for mercy and forgiveness for those who are hurting (crucifying) yu! Endure suffering so that those who don’t know Christ may come to know the power of His cross and resurrection. “If we can awaken an interest in men’s minds that will cause them to fix their eyes on Christ, we may step aside, and ask them only to continue to fix their eyes upon the Lamb of God. They thus receive their lesson.” [Ellen G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 1113
Likewise, the message, “Jesus is coming soon,” should never be used as a foreboding omen, but as a joyous proclamation that the same Christ who literally loves us to death is returning for us. As Ellen G. White noted, the shortness of time ought not be urged as an incentive to seek Christ. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus [alone] is attractive. [TMK, p. 320] Guilt, shame, fear, etc. are never sustainable motivators for healthy relationships (with God or man).
Why do we insist on telling Christ He’s not enough?
The only thing we need to hammer home is the message of Christ and His unfailing, unrelenting love. I know many want to insist we must have standards, and we must be a peculiar people, but I promise you His love is enough. His mercy, His grace, His peace, His sacrifice is enough. The message of the cross is forever enough. I know our legalism and desire to feel secure in the framework of rules will have us rebutting, “We have to uphold a standard.” But, Christ IS the standard. The grace dispensed by our crucified Lord will forever be the highest standard to which we could ever aspire! Heart Check: Why do we insist on telling Christ He’s not enough?
I’ll leave you with another favorite excerpt from Ellen G. White’s writings quoted in Evangelism (p. 272). “There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects… [However,] those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of His love and compassion, present His example and sacrifice, reveal His Spirit…There is something richer to speak of. Talk of Christ, and when the heart is converted, everything that is out of harmony with the Word of God will drop off.” Although specifically referencing others’ dress, she was talking about the work Christ does in the hearts of men to help their behaviors reflect their relationship with Him. Adding anything else to the work Christ does in each person just messes up the flavor. Christ is enough, served plain.[/box_holder]