Every now and then, we misapply the phrase “It don’t take all of that”. Many times, we’ll say it without understanding what it really does take. For example, my praise may seem a bit much to a person that has no idea what I’ve been through. However, there are times when the statement is apt. There are times when we make something complicated, when a straightforward explanation is all that’s needed.
When I was young, a staple song at Vacation Bible School every summer and even in Sunday School was “Yes, Jesus Loves Me”. This simple song was reassurance to young Christians, as well as old, that Jesus loved them. As we got to the end of the chorus, we sang “for the Bible tells me so”. In the most simple and direct terms, we saw that God’s love was evident through His Son, and the verification of that fact is found in His Word.
If God’s love can be outlined in such a simplistic way, why have we begun to make the work of evangelism and disciple making so complicated? I don’t know about you, but I’m still blown away when I read two particular passages in the Bible: John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:6-8. It’s in John 3:16-17 that I see just how much God loves me. So much so, that He gave His Son to save my soul, rather than sending His Son to condemn me.
However, it’s in Romans 5:6-8 that I see just what type of person God is in love with. It’s in those verses that I see that He loved me while I was rejecting Him. It’s in those verses in Romans 5:6-8 that I see that God doesn’t love me because of me, He loves me in spite of me. It’s a love that’s difficult to comprehend, but somehow, simple to explain.
As the church looks to carry out the Great Commission, we must be careful not to complicate why people need to come to Jesus and what it means to be saved. We must be mindful not to over market and over strategize what God has made simple in His Word. I know we desire to remain relevant in an ever changing world, but we must do so without sending out the wrong message.
We can’t cloud God’s love with a whole lot of minutia. After all, whatever we have to say about the Word of God is small time if Jesus never comes into the picture. As we often say in Baptist circles, if you haven’t mentioned the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, no matter what you have said, you haven’t preached the Gospel.
The message of salvation is centered around the fact that yes, Jesus loves us. Our Bible tells us just how He demonstrated that love. However, we have perverted the Gospel with prosperity preaching and our own theological aspirations. In an effort to show people how financial benevolent our God is or in our quest to get an education just so that we can appear to be the smartest and most spiritual people in the room, we walked away from the simplicity of the Gospel. We’ve taken an incredibly complicated love story, one that was made simple with just a few Bible verses, and made it hard to access for some people.
We have become as Pharisees, who harped on the law so much that the coming Messiah was no longer in their view. To those that were seeking salvation, it no doubt seemed impossible to be saved, because disobeying the law came with a curse. The Pharisees had the challenge of being face to face with Jesus, and therefore, they needed to be convinced of who He was. We, however, have the whole story. We know the outcome.
In our quest to be clever, we’ve complicated Christ. In our reach to be relevant, we’ve reduced being redeemed. If we’re not careful, we’ll weigh people down with rules, regulations, and religious activities, while causing them to miss the simple fact that we are saved by grace, and that grace comes from the fact that yes, Jesus does love us. If we’re not careful, we’ll attempt to exclude people from the Kingdom because they don’t dress like we do, worship like we do, sing like we do, minister like we do, or serve like we do. If we’re not careful, we’ll do our best to cause people to try and get saved according to our mandates, and not by simply believing that Jesus saves.
Again, in its simplest terms, God loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son. His Son then died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, rose on the third day, ascended to The Father, and He’s coming back again. He’s not coming back just for the rich. He’s not coming back just for those that have been to seminary. He’s not coming back just for pastors with large churches or ministries, authors with radio broadcasts, or even those that are uniquely anointed to do Kingdom work. He’s coming back for a church of believers. He’s coming back to get a people that He loves and that love Him in return. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so. It really is just that simple.