I’m not sure how many of you know this, but while I was attending seminary, I also DJ’d at a (secular) heavy metal station called “Rebel Radio”. Rebel Radio is known by many not only as an awesome metal station that’s lasted longer than any of the corporate metal/hard rock stations out there, and not only as the station that made bands like Disturbed, Soil and Coal Chamber famous, but also as a huge supporter of local (signed and unsigned) bands.
In the late 90s, there was this local band that we played called “Five Pointe O”. Their demo CD had these 2 songs that we all loved to play, one called “Purity 01”, and the other, “King of the Hill”. The band grew for a while, but when their first CD came out, these songs that we all loved so much, were altered. In fact, they really kind of sucked. We later learned that their new label had persuaded them to water them down some, changing their songs from their originals, in hopes of getting some mainstream airplay. As far as I know, they never did get any mainstream recognition though, and I have yet to hear anything from them since. However, I have no doubt that if they’d kept to their original cuts, they’d be known today as more than a mere local band from Chicago.
Serving in churches since, I’ve come to notice that in many, the Gospel has really been watered down a lot from its original message, too. No longer is there this urgency to repent of your sins and give your life to Jesus; it’s also no longer about holiness and discipleship for the glory of God; no more evangelism or defending the faith. Instead, it’s become a “mutt”-religion with the image of comfort, tolerance-rooted cheap grace, good-fuzzy feelings, fire insurance, being accepted for who you are and thus remaining in (and celebrating) your sins; and liberal acceptances about what the scriptures should say versus what they do say. It’s like everybody’s so afraid of offending somebody with the real message that they’ve dumbed it down to please the mainstream.
But when you look at it, is the Church really reaching the mainstream about God with even this watered down gospel? Because when I look at the questions being asked by both believers, unbelievers, and non-believers, I’ve noticed that there’s more confusion now than there was when we were offending people with the Truth. Maybe it’s because, even in offense, they knew what Christianity was about and what Christians stood for. And when they heard the message, they were aware that there were only 2 responses to the question, even if they didn’t like the options.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father but through me.” If Jesus is the Way, then there are no other ways to the Father. If Jesus is the Truth, then all others are simply theories, opinions, and lies. And if Jesus is the Life, then all (other) religions lead to death, claiming faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ being the only Way, the only Truth, and the only “road” to Life.
In Revelation 3:15-17, Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, (but I believe it also speaks well to such churches of today): “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold —I am about to spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (WOW!)
In Romans 1:16-17, Paul proclaimed, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith’.”
What happened to this attitude about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What happened to the excitement of this Awesome message that cannot be compared to anything out there? Yes, of course the Gospel is offensive, for it demands a response of complete obedience, and anything else is rejection to it. Why is it unfair for God to demand our full hearts? Why are lies the product of choice? Do people really think God will compromise? He already gave everything; there’s nothing more to give. Shall He have to die again?
To those afraid of sharing what has been known for millenniums as “Good News”, I ask you, “Is offending somebody with the Truth and a life-saving opportunity such a bad thing? Or maybe it’s because you don’t fully believe it yourselves…you’re lukewarm.”
If the Church is to be the Church, it must know the Way, communicate the Truth, and be possessed by the Life. Otherwise, it’s just simply a social hall, and will become as “5.0” is today…something that was once awesome, but changed in order to appease the mainstream, and is now only remembered by its Demo and mistakes.
I close this post with Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed, and in so doing have departed from the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:20)