Let me introduce you to my friend John. John is an imaginary friend of mine: a construction, really, of various folks you and I might know. John is a bit of a “foodie”. He knows all the trendy places, is not afraid to try something new, and is not deterred by the lack of an “A” sign in the window. However, John does not like tacos. He finds them unsatisfying and lacking flavor. He’s a reasonable fellow, not one to judge something without investigation. But he doesn’t understand the appeal. He’s tried. He gave it a go. But they’ve always been disappointing. So now he is simply not interested in my favorite family-owned Mexican restaurant, and he’s certainly not game for a late night rendezvous with the local taco truck. Asada, pollo, al pastor, chorizo — it doesn’t matter. By now he’s developed a firm “been there, done that” attitude.
You can imagine my shock, then, when I recently discovered that the only tacos he’s ever tasted have all come from places that have talking Chihuahuas and cartoon cacti. He’s never had a real taco. He thinks he has. But he hasn’t.
There are many people in America today who have the same attitude toward Christianity that John has toward tacos. They think they’ve experienced it. They’ve been to churches that call themselves Christian. They’ve tasted what has been offered, but they’ve never experienced the real thing. Like getting a flu shot, many today have been thoroughly inoculated by a benign form of Christianity so that they are resistant to the real thing. What a clever strategy of the Enemy. A direct attack on truth is not necessary, if a weak and tepid version is presented instead.
So, what are we to do? Should we try to show how false “churches” that have denied the truth are not churches at all? Yes, this is valuable and necessary. Christ and the Apostles warned of false teachers to come, and until Jesus returns we will always have them among us. However, I believe as we look at the New Testament, there are many more exhortations to proclaim and live out the truth than there are to refute error. So, the best thing we can do is be the true Church. Know and live the authentic gospel. Demonstrate lives truly transformed by Christ, His Word, and the powerful presence of His Spirit. Hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, and share the good news of Jesus with all who will listen. The Holy Spirit will do his work of preparing hearts, convicting of sin, and bringing people to a saving knowledge of the truth.
The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. (Acts 13:44-49)