As a pastor I’m constantly seeking ‘better’ ways to present and communicate the gospel. It’s not that I want to be the latest and the greatest but rather that I realize eternity is at stake for so many. Maybe if I said it this way or that way? Maybe if I wore a suit or maybe if I wore blue jeans? Maybe if I was older or younger and hipper in my presentation? Maybe if I had this kind of music in church or that kind of music? Maybe if I preached a harder Word or a happier one?
Maybe then I/we could reach our present generation more effectively.
What’s it going to take to win this present generation?
Jesus faced the same type of generation that we face today and this is what He had to say to it…
Luke 7:31–35 (NASB95) 31“To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? 32 “They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ 33 “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
Please notice the critique was not of the message but rather the messengers. John the Baptist came strictly adhering to ascetic law and practice living a clearly separated life from virtually everything while living in the wilderness. Jesus came as a man living sinless yet freer in his daily practice and lifestyle. He liked to mix it up with others, go to parties and hang out with what some would call a less than holy crowd. Either way, the people could not be pleased and would rather find fault in the messengers and ignore the message.
Please also notice the people expected the messengers to dance to the beat they provided for them at the time. They wanted to control the messengers rather than have the message of the messengers speak to them and bring change. They wanted puppets on a string but couldn’t get either messenger to dance for them as they wanted. So they stayed offended at the messengers and ignored their message altogether.
Nothing has changed.
The solution? Preach the Word anyway.
When people don’t like the Word being preached they will find a way to reject the messenger. You see the Word of God when taught and preached honestly brings conviction no matter the style of the messenger. When the Word given is so clearly from the LORD people must find another way to reject it without in their minds offending God. So they turn on the messenger no matter his practices. It’s ironic that both John the Baptist and Jesus were killed because they wouldn’t dance to anyone’s beat but God’s while both their messages were the same, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
I suppose there are some in every generation who are fickle when it comes to how they want their religious leaders to act and live. I believe both John the Baptist and Jesus were happy in the way they chose to live and minister. John was the greatest of the OT prophets and Jesus certainly the greatest of the NT. Both were true to their calling. Both were true to their mission. Both were true to the Word and letting the proverbial chips fall where they may.
The message of the cross will be preached this Sunday in a variety of churches with pastors of various styles and personalities. Don’t go hoping everything suits you but rather go to receive the life changing Word the LORD himself has for you!