Grace For The Journey
Some things are so central to a product that if they were removed or eliminated it would cause a major disruption among its patrons. For example . . .
- Imagine an Oreo without cream filling.
- Imagine McDonalds without calories.
- Imagine basketball without Michael Jordon, Koby Bryant, or Labron James.
- Imagine the Patriots without Tom Brady or Patrick MaHomes.
- Imagine Washington without corruption.
I think you catch my drift.
This past year, however, some companies and corporations have been making changes to things central to their identity. As a result of changing long-standing tradition, major ripple effects have been felt through their consumer base. Consider the following:
- Miss America without a swimsuit contest. In July 2018 it was reported that the Miss America pageant was eliminating the swimsuit competition. No matter what one thinks of these ladies parading on stage in limited clothing, there is little question that the swimsuit has been a key component of the contest since 1921. As a result of eliminating an almost 100-year tradition of the pageant, the report said that “nearly half of Miss America’s board has quit or been forced to resign.” Wow. It appears that messing with tradition can cause a revolution.
- Dunkin without Donuts. Dunkin Donuts shocked the market last year when they rebranded themselves, dropping “Donuts” from their name. From now on they shall ever be named “Dunkin.” An article called “Dunkin’ Fans Say Losing the Donut Leaves a Hole,” reported that people around the nation were outraged by the change. Robert from Pennsylvania said, “I’ll call them Dunkin’ Donuts until I die.” Ariel from Massachusetts said, “What are you Dunkin’ if there’s no Donut? Many agree with these two customers. The Donut is so fundamental to the brand that no matter what they call themselves, a lot of people will forever call them by their original name.
- Valentine’s Day without Candy Hearts. Who can forget those colorful, heart-shaped candies which always sweetened Valentine’s Day – “Be Mine.” “Love Me.” “Dear One.” “Kiss Me.” “True Love.” “My Baby.” Well, I have really sad news for all you sweethearts. A recent news report said: “For the first time in over a century, the original conversation hearts aren’t rolling off conveyor belts.” The disruption in production of heart candies was caused by the candy-maker Necco going out of business. News of Valentine’s Day without Candy Hearts crushed consumers around the nation. Jamie from California said, “My childhood is dying little by little.” Olivia from Virginia spoke of the “raw emotion of losing something that’s a bedrock to society.”
Far more disturbing than Valentine’s Day without heart-shaped candies is . . .
The existence of a local church
Without the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel, which is the clear teaching
Of the life, death, resurrection,
And exaltation of Christ
Is central to the
Identity of the Church.
In fact, any institution that calls themselves a “church” but does not hold fast to the gospel, stops being a church. They have simply become a religious institution that meets occasionally and encourages their people to model good behavior.
That is not the Church that Jesus gave His life to redeem.
Of central importance to the identity of the local church is their commitment and dedication to announce and live out the gospel of the Lord Jesus. That is the cream of the Oreo. That is what makes a church, the Church.
Over the years, entire denominations that once held firm to the gospel have departed from the central claims of Christ and have removed the very thing that makes them the Church. In January of this year, it was reported that leaders of the United Methodist denomination is expected to split. According to the report, church leaders agreed to spin off a “traditional Methodist” denomination, and allow the reminder of the denomination to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.
This issue is simple – The future of the third largest denomination in the United States will be determined by their commitment or departure from the teaching of the Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, any church or denomination that removes the centrality of the gospel removes the very thing that makes a church, the Church.
Many Miss America fans are saying, “Put the swimsuit back into the pageant.” Many donut lovers are saying, “Put the Donut back in the Dunkin’.” Many romantics are saying, “Put the heart-shaped candies back in Valentine’s Day.” And those of us who love God and are following His Word should be saying, “Put the gospel back in the church.”
May it be our prayer that every church holds fast to the gospel and that members of every local churches clearly display a commitment to Jesus Christ with their lives.
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”