Wow…so I am all for choices and innovation, but I am a little over the whole, “how many different flavors can you fit into a bottle of soda” movement of the last several years. Yes, I know way back in the day a “soda jerk” could put just about whatever flavor you wanted into a soda, but that was back when mixing soda was an art form, and you had your local guy that would mix it exactly how you wanted it. Now, it just sounds ridiculous on commercials to hear something like “Diet Chocolate Cherry Vanilla Dr. Whatever now with a splash of Lime”. I mean seriously…seriously. I was going to call out a particular brand of soda, but when walk down the aisle at the local Publix I realize every company is in on this thing. The fact is if you want a chocolate, cherry, vanilla, lime-flavored drink the last thing you ought to do is buy a pre-farbricated drink that tells you that’s what is in it because in the end you can’t taste any of it. You ought to grab some chocalte and pour it in your favorite can of carbonated beverage. Or get some vanilla concentrate or actual cherries. Get what you want and throw it in there.
One of the big problems I see in churches today is that we try to say everything to everybody all the time and it just gets confusing. I’m guilty of this too. I try to say things in such a way that everyone will understand. I try to tie in the entire Bible into every lesson I teach. I try to tell people about the healing nature of Christ and how He convicts of sin in the same breath. Now, its good and right to teach the whole Bible. It’s fitting to talk about the love and the justice of God. But we, as Christians, can’t say it all in every moment that we say it.
My boy Paul was brilliant with this…
19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. 22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (NLT)
Paul did say it all, but just not all at once, and he always presented the gospel differently to different people. The same gospel different ways of presenting it. Compare how he talks to the Jews in Acts 13:16-41 and what he does with the Greeks in Acts 17:16-31. I mean he’s brilliant at saying exactly what needs to be said how it needs to be said to whom it needs to be said. It’s precise. It’s powerful. It makes sense to those listening.
When children are 3 or 4 years old we tell them, “Don’t ever cross street alone.” When they are teenagers we tell them “Be careful crossing the street.” When they become adults we don’t say anything, though we think, “I hope they are safe.” Has the message changed? The words may have but the message hasn’t. The bottomline is “be safe no matter what” but a 3 or 4 year old doesn’t think the same way as a teenager or and a teenager doesn’t think the same way as a full grown adult. Paul understood that when it comes to understanding the message of Christ people get it differently.
The question is: are our churches becoming “Diet Chocolate Cherry Vanilla Dr. Soda with Lime” churches? Or do we know how to communicate the great Good News to all people in unique ways?