I read an article yesterday about how popular Christian music has become. More and more Christian artists are crossing over into the mainstream market. The author then went on to say how Christian artists take different approaches to reach out to the secular crowd. Some avoid being labeled Christian and write songs that can be seen as Christian, but don’t mention Jesus directly. Thus, they can be interpreted by a larger audience however a person wishes to understand them. Then, there are those artists who don’t shy away from keeping Jesus as the focus. Both remain popular. (You can read more from the Time Magazine article here: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/09/17/christian-musics-moment-how-tobymac-and-lecrae-conquered-the-countdown/.)
I have to admit that this article left me feeling sad. I can’t settle in my own heart how leaving Jesus out would be an effective way of reaching a lost world. I am not a musician or an artist (though I do love to sing), but it seemed that the focus was on making music and not on representing Christ. Both categories included artists I love to rock out to. And, I guess, that’s what was so disturbing. I came away from the article feeling very different than I had before reading it. I had gained more respect for some Christian artists, and lost some for others.
I couldn’t help but think of the “seeker friendly” movement. Tell people Jesus loves them, but don’t tell them about their sin. In this case, don’t even say Jesus’ name. I thought about the recent Chick-fil-a Appreciation Day. There were numerous blogs and Facebook posts about how un-Christian it was to buy a sandwich on that day. Has Satan convinced us that the way to win people to Christ is to leave Him out entirely? Just sit idly by as people march to Hell. That is the evangelistic strategy I fear we have adopted; to have no strategy at all.
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but my heart is breaking from the complacency I see in my own life and in the lives of those around me. A feel good message simply won’t do. Matthew 16:18 says, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” This is the first time Jesus has called Simon Peter. Matthew has, but Jesus hasn’t. Jesus is noting the divine change in Simon by changing his name. He does the same thing with Paul, as you know. Christ tells Peter that the Gospel message he and the other disciples have been sharing is going to be the foundation for the church—the group of believers who recognize Jesus as Lord. Note that Jesus says He is the one who will build the church. The followers of Christ lay the foundation through spreading the Gospel, but He gives the increase. 1 Corithians 3:7 says, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who gives the growth.” Finally, Jesus tells Peter that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. The picture is folding gates. Gates are used as a defense, for protection and to keep things out. Thus, the church—US!—is supposed to be offensively attacking the gates of Hell! And Jesus says we will win!! How can we win if we don’t share the Gospel? We can’t. Jesus gives the parameters. We share the Gospel, He gives the increase and we prevail. We can’t change the equation.
We are always to be loving and gracious. The Gospel is a message of love. However, we cannot leave out the need for repentance from sin. We cannot leave out Jesus. There is no Christianity without Him, and there is no salvation without repentance (Deuteronomy 10:16). Pretty lyrics and pretty words with no standard will be popular. But so will the truth! You can see it in the Billboards this week. You can see it when someone gives their life to Christ and makes Him Lord.
I want to encourage you to not get sucked in to any movement that hides Jesus or changes Him. Speak the truth and be that light, that city on a hill. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). God bless you this week and always!