Title based on the movie Jerry Maguire (1996), Sony Pictures, Written by Cameron Crowe
Is the Gospel a sales pitch where we are presenting a value proposition? Is salvation a transaction where I am trying to sell Jesus? Is the non-believer shouting out, ”Show me the money!”
Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Is the Gospel about a transaction?
Blaise Pascal formulated the idea that all of us in our lives make a bet. Pascal says we bet whether the God of Scripture, (the Gospel) is true or not. Pascal argued that this wager is asymmetrical, that is there is a clear winning strategy. We can bet that there is no God and that life is all there is, a meaningless cosmic accident. But if we are wrong, we will suffer the judgement of God. Losing but rejecting God, if He exists, is catastrophic. But, if we strive to follow Christ and serve God and we are wrong, we have spent our life working purposefully for Christ’s Kingdom and having a life full of meaning in a community of people committed to loving us. If we are wrong, we never know. Life really is meaningless, pointless, we are gone. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager)
The Gospel is about our identity in the reality revealed in Jesus and the resurrection.
One barrier in our time to moving people from a decision to accept Jesus as my Savior and not to being active disciples is to present the gospel as a transaction. Christianity without the red pill change in identity is that the gospel is often presented as a cost free, get out of hell free card. The reality is that following Christ is not a one-time transaction that is irreversible, it is a permanent change in who I am. We never lose our salvation but if we have truly become His, He will through the Holy Spirit draw us to a life of faithfulness. Salvation is not a decision I made or a onetime event but the beginning of a new life. True faith always results in faithfulness. Jesus does not promise us ease but suffering, not luxury but service, not honor but trouble.
Mt 16: 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? Or what will a person give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds.
The Gospel costs us as disciples.
Evangelism is not a Jerry Maguire event where we show the unbeliever the money. It is a call to a life of service and sacrifice. Discipleship requires taking up our cross. It requires us to count the cost of following Jesus. The parable of the pearl of great price (Mt 13:45-46) is not about our clever bargaining to get the pearl at a good price. It is about selling all we have, to get what is worth everything.
Lk 14:27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who are watching it will begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build, and was not able to finish!’ 31 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to face the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 Otherwise, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and requests terms of peace. 33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
The Gospel is about our new identity in Christ.
The heart of the Gospel of Christ and His Kingdom is the reality that we are His. We need to have a new identity, a new reality, a new purpose. We need Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. We cannot come to the Father except through Him. We need to be born again!
Jn 3:3 Jesus responded and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”