In ancient Judaism, if Gentiles wanted to convert to the faith of our fathers, it was required that they first be denied three times (We see this same resistance in Jesus’ ministry). If these potential converts returned after three denials, they would be told about the enormous personal, physical, and financial cost required. Most Gentiles would be unwilling to pay such a steep price and therefore unqualified candidates were easily weeded out. This was a way of preserving the strength and integrity of the house of God by trying the heart of the aspirant.
Today, Kingdom citizenship is sidelined and replaced with Church membership, which we offer for free, as we pander to the unimpassioned masses hoping to get a few crumbs that fall from their table. This diseased desire to be accepted, liked, understood and even admired is never more on display than on Resurrection weekend! Besides, “if we could just get them in and show them that we’re not as weird as they think we are, then they may want to give their lives to Jesus or even better… our Church!”
On Easter weekend the Church begs, pleads, borrows, and who knows what else to pack our houses of worship with people who are more interested in the free X-Box giveaway or the annual Easter Eggstravaganza than they are with eternal truth. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves but I’ve always wondered why we celebrate one of the holiest occasions of the year by inviting people who have shown our Savior the least amount of respect throughout the year. The idea of designing a “worship” service for unbelievers is a paradox that will baffle theologians for eternity.
I know that we’re supposed to “go out into the highways and compel them to come” but He didn’t tell us to bribe, book-lick, and cajole them in. There’s nothing unscriptural about designing a service to reach the unsaved but there are laws against False Advertising. In fact, state and federal laws are in place to protect Americans from false or misleading advertising about the product or its price. Thankfully the Church hasn’t been brought up on charges because that’s a case that even Johnnie Cochran couldn’t defend.
The truth is that the bulk of our evangelism should be done outside the four walls of the Church building so that we can effectively train believers IN our services to BE evangelists. Instead we let the average church-goer vicariously live their evangelistic lives through their Pastor. When we constantly pander to the unregenerated with shallow/entertaining messages we do a disservice to God’s children by keeping them on an all milk diet. There’s certainly a ditch on both sides but there’s no doubt which side most have chosen in the American Church’s drive for Acceptance and Attendance.
I love Easter Egg hunts, Great Music, and Freebies as much as the next guy. It’s only when these things replace the power of the Gospel, water down the fear of God, and misrepresent the character of the King that they become a problem.
So, commence with the Resurrection celebrations! Let’s open up our Churches and invite the world in but let’s be honest with them when they get there. No more caricatures of Christianity. No more compromise. The truth is that Jesus is alive and He offers Life today but it comes at a steep price. You don’t get to have it your way. If you want to be free, you’ll need to let Him free you from some things that you want to hang on to.
When it comes to the Church, we’re not that cool… in fact we’re unusual. We lay hands on people and occasionally they fall in the floor. We speak in tongues, we shout, dance and sometimes we run. We’ve also discovered the truth, it has made us free and it will you too if you’re willing to give your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Let all who are hungry come! Let all who are looking to be entertained… go somewhere else. There are plenty of options.