Summary: A study of Jesus' teaching that He did not come to bring peace to the earth and how we need to "fire it up" instead of "watering it down."

CAN WE WIN MORE PEOPLE BY SOFTENING THE GOSPEL? The best plan is not to “water it down” but “fire it up.”

- Luke 12:49.

- Fire is referred to in this verse. There is a sense in which the truth of Christ is going to bring fire to the earth.

- Fire burns down what already exists.

- The fire could be the spread of the gospel. Or the Kingdom. Or the Word of God.

- Can we win more people by watering down the hard parts?

- The problem:

a. People want transformation and the power of God in their lives.

b. Offering less just makes us well-dressed sinners.

- We don’t need a nicer, less-offensive message. Our hope requires us to include the offensive part. We need to know that we are sinners so that we can understand our need for a Savior.

- Christianity must stand in stark contrast to the world.

A MISCONCEPTION: The gospel is not “be nice.”

- Luke 12:51-53.

- Look up Luke 6:20-30.

- Examine how difficult most of it is.

- Images:

a. A rebel army battling in enemy territory.

b. Mr. Rogers in the neighborhood.

- Point of potential tension:

a. Politically.

b. Family (including children).

c. Marriage.

d. Workplace.

e. Church (because not everyone in church has a Kingdom mentality).

- The extent to which no one is bothered by our faith may be the degree to which we are compromised.

- A small note: how does verse 51 relate to the Christmas promise? One refers to peace in relationship to the world and the other to peace within the recipient’s heart.

WHY DON'T WE SEE MORE OFFENSE AT THE GOSPEL IN AMERICA? Because we largely have a culturally compromised Christianity.

- Some try to argue that Christians in America are a persecuted minority. Such thinking arises more from their tainted imaginations than actual events.

- Closer to the truth is that in America we have a culturally compromised Christianity that is not particularly offensive because it does not share the meat of the gospel.

- What are some examples of statements that American conservative Christians make that comprise a culturally compromised Christianity? Here are a few:

a. God loves America most.

b. Voting Republican is doing God’s will.

c. Capitalism rules (so it’s ok to ignore Jesus’ teaching on money).

d. Being generically nice is an acceptable substitute for being radically merciful.

e. Don’t say anything mean about them, but you don’t have to actually be around people who aren’t like you.

f. Belief is an acceptable substitute for obedience.

g. Don’t stand up for the idea that some truths are absolute.

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