Tuesday, 28 September 2010

"Try it - you'll like it", or "Take it - you need it"?

Is there any difference between ice cream and medicine?  It's not a trick question. 

Of course there is!  Consider how you go about selecting your ice cream - you look at all that's on offer and you pick your favourite - the one that appeals to your personal taste.  You can even get a combination, just select a few and mush them all together.  Suppose as you're eating your ice cream you notice someone else eating a flavour you can't stand.  You would never feel any compulsion to get that person to convert and eat the same flavour you eat, would you?  You may ask them if they've ever tried your flavour, and you may encourage them to give it a go, but you'd never force it down their throat - if they don't take your flavour it's no big deal - there's no harm done.  But how is your medicine selected?  It's not according to your personal taste, it's according to your personal need.  Medicines aren't given to people because they like them, but because they need them.

The reason for bringing up this strange subject is because many people think that the whole area of religion / spirituality and God is like going to an ice cream parlour – just look at all that's on offer and pick your favourite, even take a combination if you want, but don't force your flavour down anyone else's throat - as long as they like their flavour that's all that matters.  However, I want us to see that the message of the Biblical Gospel doesn’t present itself to us as ice cream to appeal to our personal taste, but rather it presents itself to us as a life-saving medicine to deal with our desperate personal need.

The message of the Gospel diagnoses a problem we all have - "all have sinned" (Romans 3 v 23), and it tells us the consequence of our sin is that we will perish (Romans 2 v 12).  But the Gospel doesn't just identify the problem, it provides the answer - "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1Timothy 1 v 15); "Christ died for our sins...and rose again" (1Corinthians 15 v 3-4); "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16 v 31). 

Only the Gospel of Christ treats the problem seriously - God isn't going to gloss over our sins or turn a blind eye to them - He demands that the penalty be paid.  And only the Gospel of Christ deals with the problem righteously, because the death of Christ has provided full payment that will be applied to the account of the repentant sinner.  The Gospel is not an ice cream - it is the only remedy for and rescue from the damning problem of our sin.  It can't be forced down anyone's throat, but it is offered to you (Revelation 22 v 17), and God does command everyone everwhere to repent and turn to Christ, because He is the only hope (John 14 v 6; Acts 4 v 12).