“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9
There’s hardly anything I enjoy more than good BBQ. Many BBQ restaurants major on the minor and minor on the major. In my opinion, they spend too much time focusing on the ambience (restaurant’s atmosphere) and side dishes when they ought to be focusing on the BBQ itself.
I can’t begin to tell you how overjoyed I was when we discovered Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, AL many years ago. Dreamland had come highly recommended by some friends that we trust. As we turned off of I-20, we began to wind our way up a hill through what appeared to be a residential neighborhood. I was a bit concerned that we were lost.
Suddenly, we saw this run down shack with smoke bellowing out of the roof. As we pulled into the gravel parking lot we could smell the BBQ ribs smoking. We literally were at Dreamland! We walked inside through the screen door—the restaurant was dark and the decorations were dull. It was fairly obvious that we were “newbies” and didn’t know the drill. We sat down at our table and began to search for the menu but there wasn’t one.
There were two slogans printed inside. The first slogan defined what Dreamland was all about—Ribs! It read, “Ain’t Nothing Like ’Em Nowhere!” The second slogan clarified who they were not and it was printed all over, even on the server’s t-shirts—“No Beans, No Slaw, Don’t Ask!” When our server came to take our order, she simply asked: “Half slab or whole?” Dreamland (in the good ole days) kept the main thing the main thing. It was all about the ribs and only about the ribs!
Unfortunately, in recent years, Dreamland has caved into the outside pressure to expand their menu. They’re not alone. The church has caved in as well. Whether you’re talking about church or BBQ, the ground-rules are the same. “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” For BBQ restaurants the main thing is the BBQ. For the church, the main thing is Jesus and His Gospel of grace.
At the heart of the church must be the Gospel. At the heart of the Gospel must be the finished work of Jesus. At the heart of Jesus is His love and grace for sinners. Somehow we turned Christianity into a whole lot of side items and a very little bit of Jesus.
All too often we offer others (and ourselves) a bunch of religious principles instead of a relationship with the person of Jesus. We seek principles to live by instead of a person to live with. May we with the Apostle Paul “count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord.”
More about Jesus would I know, More of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.