Buttered-Up

So, I have been making an effort to eat healthier. I looked into all those fad diets, but decided that ultimately, I needed to have a healthy relationship with food and eat a balanced diet.

Let me be honest, I have been a yo-yo dieter since I realized I could lose-weight. As a result, I have struggled with eating healthy. God created everything good- right? So why should my food taste horrible? I had to find a way to eat healthy foods and enjoy it.

I realized that as I have made this shift in my eating habits, my kids want to as well. They have started requesting salads and omelets for lunch and seem to always be asking for a bite of whatever I am eating.

However, I made broccoli to go with dinner a couple nights ago. Let’s just say, not one of my kids was happy to learn that broccoli was on the menu. But I put some butter and seasoning on the broccoli and all the sudden they were all asking for more.

I would like to think that’s because they learned broccoli wasn’t all that bad. But really, I buttered and spiced up the broccoli, so that they would like it.

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All too often, we, as Christians, try to appeal to non-believers with Christianity that is all buttered up. Accept Jesus as your Savior and you will be blessed. Come to church on Sunday, follow a few rules, and now you are going to Heaven.

We sell this religion… this way of life… but we are missing a key element. The Gospel!

Why do we need Christ?

Who is Jesus?

Why did He come to this world?

It’s foundational, but without this missing component of our need for a Savior, we are simply being good people. Anyone can make a choice to be a good person.

But Christians aren’t just good people. We are God’s people. We are imitating Christ! We love because he loved us first.

It has nothing to do with our works, and everything to do with His love for us.

We are sinners. We live in a world created by a loving Creator. But sin has destroyed our world. We need a Savior. God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son to die for us, to take on the punishment we deserve. Three days later He rose from the grave, defeating death and giving us the hope of eternal life.

The Gospel needs no butter. It is a perfect, beautiful gift on its own.

However, walking with Christ is not easy. This is where we add all the butter and spice and everything nice. We say things like, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” (Which is not true. God will give you more than you can handle because he wants you to rely on His strength not you own.)

We tell people God is always with them, and they can do all things through Christ who gives them strength. When these people attend Church, they see people who appear happy and blessed honoring God. It seems to be all sun-shine and roses. But right now, the seed we are throwing is not reaching fertile soil.  We have only sold the life-style not a real and personal relationship with Christ.

While this is good-intentioned and may have some foundational truths, we need to equip new believers. We need to teach them to read their Bibles. We need to teach them to pray. We need to invite them to fellowship. When they are struggling, we need to be the hands and feet coming along side of them, so that they know they are not alone. We need to help that person realize it will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

If we fail to do this, we are simply bringing another person to Church. We are not making disciples. We are making false claims to Christianity.

How can you be a Christian without looking like Christ?

I ask you, was Jesus’ life all sunshine and roses? (No.) Did he need to know and study the word so that it would be in his heart when the enemy came to tempt him? (Absolutely!) Did people oppose Jesus? (yes!) Was He misunderstood? (you bet!)

Did Jesus tell new believers, come to Church? No! He told them repent… Sin no more… your sins are forgiven.  He called them to change their ways.

Jesus is our model. We need to follow His example. Somehow, Christianity took on a religion and stopped mirroring Christ. When people were first called Christians, it wasn’t a good thing. It was meant as degrading, “Man you look a lot like that Christ guy…” or, “You Christians…”

Just like the cross, those things that were meant for bad, became symbols of triumph! However, let’s not forget where they came from.

If we are going to say we are Christians, we need to try to be like Christ. He is the example. We can never measure up, but we can grow and learn with the help of the Holy Spirit.

You cannot sell a butter-up version of the Gospel to nonbelievers. Jesus calls us to change our lives. But He doesn’t make us do it alone. He gives us the free gift of the Holy Spirit. He blesses us with other Christians to do life with! Take advantage of the fullness of the Gospel!

 “In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born to be a man and became like a servant.  And when he was living as a man, he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death — death on a cross.”
Philippians 2:5-8