Summary: A sermon admonishing believers to deny themselves and take up their cross daily, as our Lord instructed us to do.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Intro: The first role of successful merchandising is to give consumers what they want.
If they want bigger burgers, make their burgers bigger.
Designer bottle water in six fruit flavors? Done. You got it!
Minivans with DVD players & TV’s, headphone hookups and 10 personal cupholders?
You want 10, make it 20.
The rage of the age is KEEP THE CUSTOMER SATISFIED.
You’ve got to modify your product and your message to meet their needs if you want to build a market and get ahead of the competition.
Today this same consumer mindset has invaded Christianity.
The church service is too long, you say?
We’ll shorten it
(one pastor guarantees his sermons will never last more than seven minutes!).
Dress code to formal?
Wear your sweatsuit.
Wait till you hear our rockin’ church band!
And if the message is too confrontational, or too judgemental, or too exclusive, scary, unbelievable, hard to understand, or too much anything else for your taste, churches everywhere are eager to adjust that message to make you feel more comfortable.
This new version of Christianity makes you a partner on the team, a design consultant on church life, and does away with old-fashioned authority, accountability, and moral absolutes.
One in our area sent out a mailer card recently, promising an
“informal, relaxed, casual atmosphere,”
“great music from our church band”,
And that those who will come will
“believe it or not, even have fun.”
I say that’s great if you’re a coffeehouse!
And living for Jesus Christ is indeed and life of a joy beyond the world’s comprehension.
But anyone who claims to be calling people to the gospel of Jesus Christ with those as the priorities of their experience is calling them to a lie!
Because living for Jesus Christ is more than just another “good time.”
It’s a lie to the world to say that they will never have to fight or battle or that they will always hear a good song from the band, and that the Pastor of that particular church is always going to preach to them just what they are wanting to hear.
TASTES GREAT…LESS FILLING
This modern day outlook on church growth today is flawed.
It’s Christianity for consumers: or CHRISTIANITY LITE, the redirection, watering down, and misinterpretation of the biblical gospel in attempt to make it softer and more popular.
It tastes great going down and it settles light.
It seems to salve your feelings and scratch your itch; its custom tailored to your preferences.
But that lightness will never fill you up with the true saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s hollow and worthless.
In fact it’s worse than worthless , because people who hear the message of CHRISTIANITY LITE think that they’re hearing the gospel- they think that they are being rescued from judgment-when, in fact, they’re being tragically misled.
THE FALSE GOSPEL OF SELF-ESTEEM
The true gospel is a call to self denial.
It is not a call to self fulfillment.
This message of self-denial puts you in opposition to the modern age CHRISTIANITY LITE movement, where saints and popular TV preachers view Jesus as some kind of spiritual Genie.
You rub the lamp, and He jumps out, and says you have whatever you want;
You give Him your list and He delivers.
Some within the framework of this new movement will tell you that your salvation through Christ is a guarantee of health, wealth, prosperity, and happiness.
It’s interesting how this kind of thinking is invading the church pulpits of America.
Jesus wants you to be a better salesman,
Jesus wants you to be a better housekeeper,
Jesus wants you to hit more homeruns than anyone else in baseball.
All Jesus really ever wanted is to make you feel better about yourself.
Religious personality Robert Schuller wrote a book not to long ago called Self Esteem: The New Reformation.
In it Schuller writes that the first thing we have to do is put an end to classical God-centered theology and replace it with man-centered theology.