Monday, March 21, 2011

Was Jesus Seeker Friendly?

What has happened to the Church in America that makes us believe we must have a beautiful building, a great worship band, cushy seats, entertainment, programs for all ages, BBQ's and potlucks and a riveting, heart-warming sermon in order to draw in the lost? Where a big building and huge crowds are measures of our success?

It seems to me that Jesus wasn't like that at all. In fact, he was quite the opposite. He often told people that to follow him was going to cost them everything. That to follow Him was not going to be easy.  Jesus was selective. He didn't want huge crowds. In fact more often than not, He turned people away. No, Jesus only wanted people around Him who were truly committed to Him, wholly submitted to His will, no matter what.
And He didn't care if they were only a few in number.

Let's look at some of Jesus's seeker-friendly statements: 

Now Jesus, when He saw the great throngs around Him, gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.  (Notice he left the huge crowd!)  And a scribe came up and said to Him, Master, I will accompany You wherever You go. And Jesus replied to him, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have lodging places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Another of the disciples said to Him, Lord, let me first go and bury my father.  But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead. Matthew 8:18-22

And Jesus said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood. He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:53-54
After he said this:  After this, many of His disciples drew back and no longer accompanied Him.  John 6:66
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple Luke 14:26

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Matthew 24:9

Then there's the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking what he had to do to be saved.
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”   When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:21-22

Can you imagine a preacher saying these things from the pulpit these days? If he did, it's likely most of the people would get up and walk out. Why are we so obsessed with massive churches and crowds when Jesus wasn't.  He changed the world with 11 devoted men.

My fear is that the American version of the gospel has become more about us and less about God. More about what God can do for us and less about how we can glorify Him with our lives. Let's examine our own hearts and see where we stand with God. Are we part of the crowd who only follows Him hoping for a miracle, a blessing, or some food (like the crowds that followed him long ago)  Or are we truly like the eleven men who followed him, sleeping on the ground, hungry and cold, leaving everything behind, even risking death, simply for the treasure of knowing Him?


  1. Monday, March 21st,
    "Morning, MaryLu".
    "I'm back !" .... ('Temporarily' lost the Cross and Cutlass blog-site).
    More Pastors definitely "need" to preach along these lines, MaryLu. So many, are sharing a "cute, sweet, watered-down version of the true Gospel" ... 'tickling' peoples' ears, and telling congregations what they "want" to hear.
    Fortunately, I am in a Church -- that calls it like it is -- and does NOT water it down. We are told what is truth, and, what we "need" to hear ! Praise the Lord, for that !
    More and more, the verse from 2nd Chronicles 7:14 keeps coming to mind .... "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
    We are to "seek His face" ... not His hand and what He can be doing for us. Sometimes, though, we treat Him ... like He is some kind of a 'genie-in-the-bottle'.
    May God forgive us, and give us the strength and true committment (devotion) of following "Him" ... simply for the "treasure of knowing Him" !
    Thanks again, MaryLu ... for another 'timely Word in due season' !
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. You know, I worry about this too. The other end of it is the problem where people are so judgmental and self-righteous that numbers dwindle or the chairs/pews are filled with shallow Christians that don't share anything with each other beyond plastic smiles. Being genuine would leave them vulnerable to attic after all... I've been there. I was told that I should never disagree with my husband about anything. Our "mentors" were especially proud of their marriage in this area. They had gone 35 years without disagreeing (or sinning in any other way). My husband and I were both open mouthed at that - and we have a good marriage. They told us not to worry, that God would understand that we didn't know we weren't supposed to do it until then, but now that we knew, He would hold us accountable and that was the standard.

    The truth should never be watered down. I don't care what kind of seats we sit in, whether we sing hymns or modern songs... whether they offer coffee or not. The gospel should always be preached - and the atmosphere should be one that feels more like a family where you'll be told the truth in love.

  3. @Brenda: I was wondering where you were. Welcome back.
    MaryLu, I agree with you on this. The church seems to be focusing on the 'outer' appearance more and more these days. When I attend our church services, I really enjoy hearing the message. But before the pastor gets up, it seems like we have to sit through a throng of songs that keep getting dragged out by the song leader. He is a very nice guy, but he seems to focus on his 'performance' more than on the worship. Many of the older ladies in the church fear that our church is changing too much.
    Oh for the days when church meant going to worship with simple songs and listening to a powerful sermon. Without all the added 'worldly' additions.

  4. Thanks for your comments! Welcome back, Brenda! Glad you found me again. I'm so glad you are in a good church that preaches the truth! They are so hard to find these days.
    Lee, your story made me sad. I know there are people in churches like that. There were many in my old church. They have good intentions, but they have strayed so far from the truth. The worse thing is, they will push others away from Jesus. And I didn't mean to sound like I"m against big churches. I'm not. If the truth is preached and people love one another, the bigger the better!
    Debbie, exactly what I"m talking about. The service ends up being more of a "Show" instead of hearing God's word. I LOVE a good powerful sermon and it's hard to find any these days.
    God Bless you all!

  5. It's so timely that you would write about this today. My father and I have been talking this very thing for quite aw hile now. He calls it the Westernization of Christianity. you'd have to ask him to explain it, because I sure can't...but I th ink when we become more us-centered instead of Christ-centered, regardless fo what type or size of churc h we go to, we set ourselves up for some unplesasant things.

    the church I go to now is so little and it has a lot of needs. However, what I just TREASURe is the pastor's emphasis on teacing directly from the Bible, straight through the Bible. In fact, last Sunday he gave us all the verses in the "roman's Road". He's challenging us as a church to memorize those verses. How cool is that?
    Thaks for this very timely/thought -provoking post :) :) You're a treasure, MaryLu :) :) Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  6. Monday, March 21st,
    Hi "all" ....
    Just wanted to say, that it was SO very nice, to be missed !!! That really made me feel good, (although I felt a tad stupid I could not find the blog-site) !!! Anyway .... I'm 'here' again. Thanks for caring !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  7. Amen MaryLu! Finally, I'm not alone in this -This has been worrying me for a long time. I believe that we should always give God our best, but just think of the lives that we could change if we spent a little less money on the performance and church building ( we really don't need the latest equipment on new screen t.v's or the nicest silk flower arrangemetn0 and a little more on missions, on charities, on programs that bring people off the street for a simple meal while hearing the Gospel. A little less show and a little more seriousl concentration is needed. keith Green (popular Christian singer in the 80s I believe) said that people shouldn't pay to hear the Gospel. So why is it so hard to bring it to people?

  8. Thank you, Heather. How blessed you are to have found such a wonderful church that teaches the Scriptures! I hope we see more of this as the years go on, instead of less. I just left my church due to a serious problem with the pastor. I'm still sad about it. But I'm meeting now with a small group (about 50) and it's been great!
    Eszter, I couldn't have said it better. Yes, less money on buildings and performances and more on charity and mission work. That's the key. I'm guessing that for years the church has believed that having these nice things would draw the lost in. But I don't think that's true. Most atheist I talk to said they wouldn't step foot into a church. We have to go out to them.
    And Brenda, we love you! Of course you would be missed. :-)

  9. Couldn't agree more! :-) A friend of mine brought a guest to our chruch (a Calvary Chapel, which is a Bible-teaching church), who complained that "Your church is so offensive. Chruch is supposed to make me feel good about myself, not tell me what to do. If I wanted to listen to that, I could read the Bible at home." So, it seems that the identity of the American church has become so distorted that when the real message of the Bible is actually taught, people find it weird. It's so sad!

  10. It's sad, but yes, I'm not surprised at your friend's statement, Sapphire. We need to pray for the church in America. We need a revival big time!

  11. Unfortuantely it is not just American churches that are like this. We have the same problem over here in Australia. I have been to different churches that put on a show for the congregation each week, and I just don't get it! It's not about the music, the instruments or even the song lyrics. Its about getting lost in Jesus! I have just as great a time in worship when the musicians are unavailable and we use a CD for our service as I do when the full band is playing. I am part of a rather small church, we don't have our own building but rent a small hall one of the parks in the centre of town. A lot of members left when we moved into this building and we also didn't have a 'pastor' for almost a year. But despite all this, the small number of regular members, about 70, have become so close that when you walk in of a Sunday morning you feel like you have come home. :)

  12. Exactly, Kali!! The way you describe your small church is the way I believe Jesus wants us to have church. It's the way they did it in the book of Acts. They met in people's homes and had strong relationships. They ate together, worshiped together, prayed together. Unfortunately, I think it's going to take persecution to get the church back to the way it was intended to be.