Easy Believeism and benefits oriented evangelism are two of the most detrimental fads in the American Church. Easy Believeism is the practice of offering salvation without repentance or commitment: "Just acknowledge Jesus and you will be forgiven!" Benefits oriented evangelism is promising a happy life to anyone who might beleive: "Just trust in Jesus and he will take all your problems away!" Both of theses methods are successful in filling churches but neither is honest nor Biblical. Jesus never offered a benefits only salvation: "Pick up your cross and follow me", "Sell all you have and give to the poor and come follow me". The latter half of John 6 is a course study against a benefits oriented gospel message: John 6:26-29 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. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." Nor did He offer Easy Believeism: "Go and sin no more", "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near", "Go, sell all you own and then come follow me."
DOESN'T GOD WANT US TO BE HAPPY?
Easy believism does no favor to the true seeker. To be truly "seeker sensitive" we need to focus on true discipleship. True discipleship means telling the truth. Some modern evangelistic methods make promises not found in God's word, misrepresenting God and sowing seeds of discontent. One of the biggest lies we hear from coming from the modern church movement is "God wants you to be happy!" There is no place in scripture that tells us God wants us to be happy. I am not saying God wants us to be unhappy, as that would be just as much a mischaracterization the other. What God wants us to be is content, joyous and thankful. Happiness is circumstantial. If things go my way, I am happy, if things do not go my way, I am unhappy. In the pursuit of happiness, I can only be as happy as the last good thing that has happened. If we could graph happiness in our lives, we could see when life goes as we perceive it should, as we get away with things, as we acquire things, as others recognize us, happiness goes up. When we are held accountable, when we suffer loss, when we encounter "unfairness", when others ignore our efforts, happiness goes down.
Living in the pursuit of happiness places us on an emotional roller coaster, eventually leaving us empty and unfulfilled.
Contentment, joy and thankfulness, on the other hand, are not circumstantial, can be attained in the midst of hardship and are the direct result of focusing on what Christ has already done for us on the cross.
SEE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. God's design for us is to seek Him and His will and purpose for our lives and leave the rest to Him. Practically, what does this mean, should we quit our jobs and walk the streets preaching the Gospel, trusting God for all provision? For some this may very well be where God is leading. Why is that any different than a missionary, going to a far off land, trusting God for all provision? Chances are, however, God wants to use you where you are, in your current job or school. What God does not want us to do is be anxious for anything, because He promises to care for us as we seek Him. What God does want from us is our all. God is not looking for our second best effort or our left over time and resources, He wants the cream of our lives. Twice per year, the nation of Israel was called to offer the firstfruits, or the first yield of the harvest. The act of firstfruits sacrifice showed trust in God to bless the rest of the harvest and anticipated God's blessing and provision. We, likewise, are to give God our best, from the top, anticipating His provision. This takes trust, and trust is earned. God earned our trust at the cross, providing Himself a sacrifice on our behalf. If God is willing to provide us with undeserved salvation through the death of Christ, how much more will He provide our needs as we pursue His kingdom and holiness?
As a Christ follower, are you giving Him your best, are you trusting the Father to care for you as He has promised or do you live by the faulty creed, "God helps those who help themselves"? God does not promise us health, wealth and prosperity, but He does promise to provide all our needs, when we commit to serving Him in obedience: Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. This was written to a church of people who were diligently serving and giving time and resource to the kingdom of God and the spreading of the Gospel.
GO MAKE DISCIPLES
Everything we are and all that we have is provided to us for one cause, disciple making. Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." This is what Jesus told us to do, it was not a suggestion, but a command. We are not all called to "win souls" but we are all called to make disciples. We, everyone of us, has a unique calling and purpose in the Body of Christ. Operating in that calling and purpose is where we find fulfillment, peace, joy and contentedness. The fruits of the Spirit are found in living under the authority of the Spirit and fulfilling our unique role, chosen especially for us as individuals.
WHAT DOES GOD WANT FROM ME
God wants the best of everything we are and have, He wants the best of your time, the best of your ability, the best of your harvest (tithe) and the best of your heart, dedicated to His glory. In return, God provides us all we need to pursue Him and his purpose for us. The cost of true discipleship is all you are, all you have, all you hope to be, completely dedicated to His service. We are not all "called out" to "full time" ministry or the mission field, but we are all called to love the people in our lives, we are called to live our faith in such a way that others see Christ in us. It is cliche, but, if you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That is an important question to ask oneself.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
"I do not know where to even start." This is a common statement many believers make when confronted with the cost of discipleship. Start with prayer, not just "help me God" prayers or "gimme" prayers, but true, heart felt prayers in which you ask God to speak to you, to open your spiritual eyes to the needs of others, where you earnestly ask God to reveal sin that needs repentance. As we dedicate time to prayer and seeking the power of God in our lives, we will see amazing things happen. No move of God has happened without first being preceded by prayer. Prayer does not have to be fancy, just speak to God as the loving Father that He is. Pray with anticipation that God hears and desires to bestow good things to His children, knowing that God's definition of good may be different than ours at first.
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
As we seek first His kingdom, we can be assured that He loves us and desires His best for us. What is the cost of discipleship, everything. In giving God all of us, we get all of Him. All of His provision, all of His guidance, all of His love, all of His comfort, all of His grace. The list goes on and on. This is a pretty good trade off, as we have nothing God needs and God has everything we need. Living the life of a disciple is a road less traveled and is not always a paved highway. We will encounter difficulties as a God honoring lifestyle is counter-culture. We will not always fit in with the crowd, we may be misunderstood or even misrepresented, we may be ostracized, we may even encounter persecution. Discipleship may cost us dearly, but the rewards are eternal and limitless. Salvation from hell, fellowship with the creator, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, peace, joy, love, these are things on which we cannot put a price. Matthew 13:44-46 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.