Yesterday a friend posed a question that I think is entirely relevant to church culture, yet difficult to answer. He asked, “How do you preach the gospel to someone who already knows it?” One answer: Focus on Christ and appeal that they trust him and put their faith in him.
However, my guess is his question’s intention was to ask, “How do you preach the gospel to someone who thinks he or she knows it, but doesn’t?” Someone who is culturally a Christian, but doesn’t really know the gospel. I think this is a tremendously important question for preachers as so many in churches fit into this category.
A few weeks back I had the opportunity to preach on 2 Chronicles 25 and the life of Amaziah, who followed the LORD, but not with a whole heart. I closed by considering that half-hearted Christianity is not enough. I think that it might be an attempt to answer my friend’s question. Here is that section of the sermon:
You see, when you repeatedly fail and continue to fall short and don’t always do all that you ought, that’s not half-hearted Christianity. Constantly failing to be perfect is not half-hearted Christianity. Finder yourself not doing what you ought to and doing what you shouldn’t is not half-hearted Christianity. That was Paul’s struggle in Romans 7 and that’s the reality of the human condition. And this is principally because Christianity is not about your performance.
The preaching of the gospel is not an appeal to do something that will make you Christian – it is an announcement, a proclamation about something God has done in Christ that will make you a Christian. It is all about Christ and not about you.
Half-hearted Christianity means that you are happy with Christ, but you are happy with other things as well. Christ is not everything to you. You’d give him up before you give other things up. You’d gladly have Christ so long as you can add other things/people to him. When push comes to shove, Christ is displaced. Half-hearted Christianity is not enough.