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The Casual Gospel

In the Jesus People Movement of the 1970ís I can remember witnessing to people on the streets by saying to them "just try Jesus". What did I really mean when I spoke those words? More specifically, what did people understand those words to mean?

I believe the words, "just try Jesus" suggests that people have tried other things in their lives, so why not give Jesus a try. If He works for you that would be great. If He doesnít work for you, there are other things you could try.

I am not saying that Jesus did not use those words at times, but as I look back, those words were far too casual. The gospel has nothing to do with simply trying Jesus out to see if He works for you.

Have you ever heard somebody say these words? "Just repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved". A few years ago some of us were praying for a Muslim man. As we laid hands on him in prayer, one person asked him to repeat the sinners prayer after him. At the end of the repeated prayer most people rejoiced that this Muslim became a Christian, that is, most people except for me and a couple others. I didnít believe that someone could become a true believer simply by repeating certain words. Jesus said, "put your trust in me and you will be saved". He didnít say, "repeat after me and you will be saved". Yes, maybe on occasion the Lord has used such a prayer. It became evident that these words did not get this man saved. He had no real fruit of faith in his life. To me, a "repeat after me prayer" is once again, way too casual.

I have thought about these things lately because of my study in the book of Luke. Many people when they first met Jesus while He was on earth fell at His feet in fear and reverence, experiencing a tremendous sense of humility in His presence. Meeting Jesus was far from a casual experience for these people.

Here are some examples of what I am talking about. In Luke 5:8 Peter falls at Jesusí feet after seeing a great catch of fish. Once at His feet he told Jesus to "go away from me for I am a sinful man". Peter felt a great reverence towards Jesus, while at the same time feeling pretty insignificant about himself. Peter understood his depraved state of being while in the presence of Jesus.

In Luke 7:36 and following we see a sinful woman weeping at the feet of Jesus. In Luke 7:25 the disciples were full of fear after Jesus calms the storm. In Luke 8:47 the woman who touched Jesusí cloak fell at His feet. The list of examples goes on and on.

My conclusion is this. In many Christian circles we have "casualized" our gospel. When one really meets Jesus it is an eye opening, reverent, and memorable experience. The gospel we preach should reflect this. Meeting Jesus is far from casual. It is not a "try it out experience". The gospel message as seen in the Bible is clear, Jesus is both Lord and Christ. We meet Him, and give our lives to Him because He is Lord. This results in our salvation. Thereís nothing casual about that.

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