Have you ever met someone who has fallen away from the Lord? Certainly, there are many reasons why this happens to people. But there is one re-occurring reason that I have been seeing recently: They accepted the wrong gospel.
Here is what I mean. Their moment of conversion went something like this: “You should accept Jesus into your heart because God loves you. He wants to bless you. He has a purpose and a plan for your life. God has good things for you. If you accept Him, he will take care of you
and protect you. Your life will be better and you will get to be in heaven with Him forever.”
I wonder how many of us got saved like this. In fact, if that’s all there is to it, who would ever not want to be saved? Hear me out: the statement above is not untrue. God does love you and does want to bless you. He certainly has a plan for your life, can protect you, and has made a way for you to spend eternity with Him. But that statement alone is incomplete.
Just telling someone about God’s blessings and love is misleading. And desiring blessings and happiness from God is a shallow motivation to get saved. It’s also a motive that will crack under pressure.
I cannot tell you the number of people I’ve met in the United States who used to follow God but they don’t want to anymore. The reason? Nine times out of ten it’s because they are bitter or resentful toward God or other people for things going badly. They didn’t get what they thought they had bargained for. They thought God was made for them, not the other way around. Then they blame God when they suffer. They were told the wrong—or rather—the incomplete gospel.
Think about it this way: that conversion statement above wouldn’t sell in many of the hostile or restricted nations VOM works in. These are places where being a Christian does not mean your problems go away; it means you have a whole new set of problems! In fact, this is how one Pastor in Northern Nigeria explains it to new believers: “You have come to suffer.” The Bible is clear; salvation is free, but there is a cost to following Jesus.
The truth of the gospel is that God does love us; He sent His son Jesus to die for sinners in desperate need of His grace. He paid for our sins and was raised victorious. We have a choice to accept Christ into our lives and that is exactly what He wants; God wants your life. He wants all of you. And yes He has a plan, but it might not be our plan. It might not be the American dream, suburban home, 401-K plan. Maybe it is. But it’s His plan, a plan that stretches beyond just us, and it’s far better than our own.
There’s no promise that life will be all roses, but He does promise that you will never be alone, that He will give us His strength in times of need and that there is victory in the end. We worship God because He alone is worthy, not so we can get something out of Him.
Jesus tells a story in the Bible about two men, one who builds his house on sand and one who builds his house on the rock. When the storms come, the house on the sand collapses. But the one on the rock stays strong (Matthew 7:24-26). The foundation that we build our faith on will determine how we respond to suffering. May we always find ourselves on solid ground, and be able to say confidently with the apostle Paul: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
"Grace Taylor" serves on the staff of VOM. She was first introduced to the ministry of VOM by her parents and grandparents, who received the VOM newsletter, and through the VOM book Jesus Freaks. She has served in 12 different countries and is passionate about helping expand God’s Kingdom throughout the nations of the world.
Image credit: National Network of Youth Ministries