You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. (Revelation 4:11)
Many in the church today have fallen prey to a massive misconception when it comes to the message of the Gospel. Modernity has manipulated the Good News, changing the focus from upward to inward—from serving the Savior to serving the self. Far too many people imagine that somehow God’s warning to Pharaoh has been changed from “Let my people go so they can serve me” to “Let my people go so I can serve them.” The church today—and particularly the church in the Western world—is full of the misguided, who have absorbed “gospel-lite” messages designed to meet felt needs and who believe that God exists to serve their ends, satisfy their needs, and slake their thirst for all things material.
But this is not for you! Scripture warns us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Here are three questions for you to ponder in order to discern if you have manipulated the Gospel message in any way:
- Why do you attend church?
- Why do you pray?
- Why do you tithe (assuming that you do tithe) your income?
If these Christian disciplines are part of your life simply because you desire to please your God and praise His mighty name, then the message has not been manipulated in your mind. But if you attend church, pray, and tithe in order that you might get something in return, you can be sure that the message has indeed been manipulated.
It comes down to two words: duty and devotion. If you do these and other things for God out of a sense of duty (inasmuch as the Christian disciplines are our duty), the message has been manipulated. But if you do these and other things out of a sense of devotion, because your heart beats for nothing smaller than the Lord Jesus Christ and you are overwhelmed with love and thanksgiving because of what God has already done for you—NOT what you hope He will do in the future—then you can be sure that the message you are responding to is the one the Master delivered 2,000 years ago.
Here is another way to put this: Ask yourself, “Do I do what I do for my own gain? Or for the Savior’s glory?” To be sure, God has promised to meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), but there are two things we must remember. First, we must never define “wants” as “needs”—and we all have a natural tendency to do just that. Second, we must always remember that God will meet our needs in His time, in His way, and for His glory. And often the outcome won’t look anything like what we expected it to!
In closing, and I pray for a deep and abiding encouragement for your soul, regardless of where this message found you today. God is God, and is worthy of all our praise, glory, honor, and obedience. When what we do for God is done simply because we could not do otherwise, we can know for sure that we have not manipulated the Gospel message and that our heart is beating for nothing smaller than our Master.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!