"It's that easy! All you have to do is pray a simple prayer and Jesus will forgive all your sins!"
I listened as this kind and gentle man tried to convince the room full of teenagers to pray a prayer for salvation. His heart and intentions were pure; he only wanted to help. The problem was, though, he wasn't telling these kids the full story.
There is a great plague in the Western world today, and it comes in the form of false gospels. These false gospels I am referring to are counterfeits. They attempt to imitate the real thing, but they are in fact nothing close. The tragedy is that we have entire generations of people walking around fooled, thinking they are eternally secure when they are nothing of the sort.
As we enter into this December month and the Christmas season, I think of the birth of Christ and the subsequent life He lived. We all gather throughout this month to contemplate God becoming man, a humble babe wrapped in swaddling cloth. We struggle against a culture that has created a holiday season wrapped in consumerism and selfish ambition. We strive to remind our children that it is indeed not about Santa Claus and being naughty or nice; it is, in fact, all about the birth of Christ.
The immaculate conception, Christ's birth in a barn, the shepherds encountering angels in the fields, the wise men journeying for miles and for years to encounter the King - these are all magnificent events that make up a glorious beginning. We journey from there through a perfect life of service and miracles, of teaching and modeling, finally arriving at a cross where Christ bore our sins so that we may choose to live. He died a criminal's death, suffering such physical and emotional tortures that would make this death one of the worst types. It is all so inconceivable, really.
I think of all this, and it begs the question: How do we go from God becoming man in a most magnificent and sacrificial way, to praying one simple prayer for salvation that requires little of the prayer-giver and much of the Holy God?
Christianity can only be genuine when it begins with a genuine encounter with the true Gospel of Christ. When I examine the life of Christ and what Scripture says before and after His historical time on this earth, I cannot imagine that God is pleased that His Gospel has been so reduced to being that of "one simple prayer."
This prayer by David Platt reveals the grave predicament of the Christian movement in the Western world today. We have abandoned the True Gospel of Christ for one that fits our lives. We have transformed God's message of hope to more closely resemble a message of comfort.
I invite you to take a journey with me back in time. It will be an advent of sorts, as we will take a brief and cursory look at God's original plan and His continued involvement throughout the course of human history. We will start at the beginning of time and journey to the beginning of Christ's life. As if we are climbing a mountain, we will start at the bottom and ascend to the summit, in hopes that the view is clear and worth the journey.
Ascend the mountain with me, and as we go, we will ask this question: is it really that simple? Or does God intend for it to be so much more?