the big show


I wrote commercials for a short time at K-Lite FM in Hamilton and I scored a couple of freebies to a Christian concert. It was a good show and the artists were attractive and popular and sold a lot of units. It was what a concert was to be like but I walked away feeling a little vacant thinking ‘is this what we have to do to convince people about Jesus?’ I’m not saying that it was necessarily bad but I thought ‘could a guy not spend some time in a coffee shop with another guy with a Bible open telling him about Jesus?’

I have heard and read time and again something like ‘what wins them will keep them.’ If the gospel gets them there, it’ll keep them. (Philippians 1:6, Jude :24) I believe that many other things are attracting people to church, so let’s apply this line to it: if a ventriloquist got them there, that’s what’ll keep them…or a juggler or a smokin’ hot band or a cap and cane routine…or a free meal…a free meal…now there’s a thought.

I have been reading and thinking through John 6 and :2 flips the light on:

[2] And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. (John 6:2 ESV)

They followed Him because of the signs (John 6:14). They followed because they got a free meal. The signs convinced them that He was a prophet and we know that Jesus was and is so much more…but Jesus looked past their superficial belief.

[26] Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. (John 6:26 ESV)

They got their physical needs met, they got their tummies stuffed, but they weren’t seeing Jesus for who He was. The miracles were to clue them in about His identity, that He was God, but they missed it. They weren’t getting it, they weren’t seeing Him. As John 6 starts to wrap up, the teaching got hard and many weren’t diggin’ it.

[61] But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?  (John 6:61 ESV)

Is the gospel offensive? Absolutely! That’s why it’s impossible to come to faith without the Spirit of God waking us from the dead.  We can share the gospel lovingly and tenderly but we can’t cut the corners off…and if we do, it’s a different gospel. Jesus calls people to believe and repent. Some do, but others, not so much.

[66] After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. (John 6:66 ESV)

It wasn’t genuine faith. Have you ever seen someone hang out in church world with you for a season but then the teaching gets tough and then you don’t see them as often, and then not at all? Could it be that they weren’t genuinely His? (1 John 2:19)

I think we need to carefully think through how we try to evangelize. Could it be that we put too much effort, money, time, and confidence in the Big Show and less trust in the gospel? The gospel is powerful. Should we not put our stock in the power of the gospel?

It’s easier, in one sense, to put on a Big Show than to pour your time, effort, and prayer into the individual lives of unbelievers.  You will get hurt easier when you answer questions and study the Bible with them and share the hard truths of the gospel…you can get your heart stomped on, but that’s one of the prices of following Jesus. Many times people will not reject you for your works…they’ll receive the food, clothing, and cash…they’ll hang with you and enjoy the bbq with you and enjoy the time together and enjoy the laughs and sometimes when we present the gospel, that’s hard…and you’ll be rejected for your words because they are the words of Jesus.

Sometimes they’ll accept your works but not your words…that was the gang in John 6, but they walked away…and others? The Spirit will enlighten and enliven them. Does this mean that we shouldn’t be doing the works…absolutely not! We need to be faithful, regardless… and some, in God’s grace, will come to faith. We’re not called to bring life to the dead, we’re just called to bring them the truth.


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