“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
In 1784, John Wesley commissioned Thomas Coke and a few other men to organize the first Methodist Church in America. As Wesley stood on the pier and bid them farewell, His final instruction as they set sail was this: “Offer them Christ.”
In 2020, many of those who preach offer a financial blessing, a better job, a better marriage, a better life here and now. I have even seen some pastors offer craft beer in order to increase attendance. And of course, all these things have proven to be successful in drawing people into churches, but have they been successful in drawing people to Christ?
With the many choices available to churchgoers across The United States, what is the response when Jesus is the only option on the menu?
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus performed miracles to demonstrate God’s power. He healed physical sickness, He fed the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish, and He turned water into wine. When the people saw what they could get from Him, many followed Jesus out of self-focus, so that their bellies would be full and their temporary needs met. So, in order to reveal the true desires of their hearts, Jesus cut off the food supply.
When they continued to seek Him for provision, He says to them, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus would call out to these types of self-focused followers: “Listen, if you truly want to follow me, if you want eternal life you must give up all you have and deny yourself. If you follow me, you are going to have trouble, you are going to be persecuted and possibly killed, but I will lead you to holiness, freedom from sin and the corruption of this world; I will lead you to eternal life that you may know God; Look this will be a hard road but do not let your hearts be troubled because I have overcome the world.”
Every time Jesus laid out the requirements and told them to count the costs, many turned away and followed Him no more. The same thing happens today. People don’t want there to be just one way to eternal life; they don’t want to the road to be difficult; they don’t want to deny themselves and surrender to God – they want options, not absolutes. So, when someone only offers them Christ, they will look elsewhere to someone offering more. They want to go to a church where they will be entertained; they want to hear about a Jesus who offers good health, financial prosperity, and success. Some of them may actually want to follow Jesus, but they want their stuff too. Their hearts are divided, So, when they hear the truth, like the rich young ruler who had great wealth, most of them walk away sad.
And this is how Jesus sorts through the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the true and the false; this is why John Wesley exhorted those men in 1784 to “Offer them Christ.”
Because in these times of uncertainty and stress, as everyone is looking for answers— When all you offer is Jesus Christ, you discover the ones who truly want Him.
Repent Believe Persevere