Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was Jesus "Seeker Friendly"?

I'd like to explore the topic of being "seeker friendly," which has become so popular today. When I use that expression, I mean that in the sense that it is used in the modern mega churches that like to attract crowds. I mean it in the same sense of the seeker-safe churches that aim to please the non believers in their midst in the hopes that they will find the church to be "relevant." Being "relevant" to the world is esteemed as if it is a biblical commandment in such churches. They assume the music, the atmosphere, the way people talk and dress, all have to be such that the world can relate to them. They typically have their Starbuck's coffee bar, their strobe lights, special effects fog, tight jeans, rocky worship, worldly video clips, and short, 20-minute sermons.

However, the way we go about making disciples should be according to Jesus. So the question is whether Jesus was "seeker friendly," also known as "seeker-sensitive." I believe you will be able to see clearly from Scripture whether or not He was. Here are some passages that will reveal the answer, because they show how Jesus was not out to "win friends and influence people" according to the principles taught by Dale Carnegie. Jesus was not everyone's "yes" man who agreed with whatever they said and told them what they wanted to hear in order to win friends to Himself and make followers out of them. In fact, he often said things that brought correction, reproof, or rebuke to men. He often said things that went directly against the assumptions people made.

Following Jesus Is Harder Than You Think
In the gospel of Matthew, it says, "Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.' Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.'" (Mat 8:19-22)

In the first instance, the scribe confidently declared his allegiance to Jesus. But rather than giving him a big hug and welcoming him into the kingdom, Jesus told him that he lacked a place to lay His head, implying that anyone following Him may suffer similar hardships for His sake. The Lord did not use the "seeker friendly" approach with the man by telling him that it would be easy to follow Him.

In the second instance, a disciple requested permission to bury his dead father before following Jesus. But the Lord told him he should not delay following Him, even though that seemed like a valid reason to do so. He counseled the man to let others bury his father, but that he should immediately embark on following Jesus without delay.

A Rich Young Man Seeking Eternal Life
Do you remember how Jesus answered the rich young man who was seeking eternal life?

And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." Then he *said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The young man *said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Mat 19:16-22).

Did the Lord try to attract this man to follow Him by being nice and agreeable? No, He told the man "if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." And He enumerated a few examples of the Ten Commandments in answer to the man's question about which ones. Then when the man confessed that he thought he had kept all those commandments, the Lord even told the man to "go and sell your possessions and give to the poor." As a result of what the Lord said, the man "went away grieving." This is not one of the "seeker-friendly" approaches being used by "seeker-safe" churches today.

Unless You Repent, You Will All Perish
Consider how Jesus responded to those who reported to Him the news about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.

"Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, 'Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.'" (Luk 13:1-5)

The people probably saw the fate of those Galileans as a judgment from God for their sinfulness, and perhaps they expected Jesus to agree with them. However, He did not respond like they expected. He did not strike up a friendly conversation with them, trying to find some common basis on which to build a friendship with them. He told them that unless they repent, they will all perish like those people whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices. In fact, He even gave them another example to prove His point, regarding the eighteen people who perished beneath a falling tower. Telling people to repent or else they will perish is not a typical "seeker friendly" approach.

None of Those Men Shall Taste My Dinner
Another great example to consider is how Jesus responded to the man at the table with Him, who remarked about the blessedness of those who will eat in the kingdom of God. The man probably assumed he himself was among those who would eat in the kingdom, but look at how the Lord responded.

"When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, 'Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!' But He said to him, 'A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, "Come; for everything is ready now." But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, "I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused." Another one said, "I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come." And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, "Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame." And the slave said, "Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room." And the master said to the slave, "Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner."'" (Luk 14:15-24)

In the Lord's response, He showed that none of those who are invited to God's banquet in heaven, and who make excuses, would ever taste of His dinner. Just because they have been invited does not mean they will be able to eat in the kingdom of God. Obviously this was not a standard "seeker friendly" approach to getting this man who was eating with Him to become one of His followers.

The High Standard for Discipleship
One last example will suffice to make my point. Jesus did not lower the standard for heaven in order to attract more people. In fact, when large crowds were going along with Him, He turned many people away by what He said.

"Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, "This man began to build and was not able to finish." Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'" (Luk 14:25-35)

In this passage, the Lord said many things that the large crowds with Him would have found hard to bear. He said that if anyone comes to Him, he must hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life. He said that if anyone does not do so, they cannot be His disciple. He said that anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Him cannot be His disciple. They must be cross-bearing followers of Jesus. Nothing else would do. He also said that none of those present there in the crowd could be His disciple unless he would give up all his own possessions. Rather than get them to say a quick prayer and treat them as one of His followers by virtue of the fact that they were going along with Him, He instead counseled them to go and count the cost of being one of His disciples. He emphasized that there would be a great cost. In fact, He indicated that it would cost them everything. These are not the words of a "seeker friendly" preacher who wants to attract the crowds to follow the Lord.

Putting it All Together
Through these examples from Scripture, I have shown that Jesus gave people plenty of reasons to walk away from Him. He only wanted those who were serious and willing to pay the price. He upheld the high standard of the kingdom of heaven, and did not back down one inch for anyone. He preached against sin and taught that sincere repentance is required to be saved.

Yet today so many preachers are giving people a watered-down message and making it easy for them to enter the kingdom. They are trying to attract the crowds by being "seeker-friendly" and "seeker-sensitive." This approach avoids offending people with the essential aspects of the gospel - the seriousness of sin, repentance and eternal punishment. The seeker-sensitive ministry style is not the Scriptural pattern given by the Lord in His ministry. Those who use that approach are preaching a different gospel rather than the one Jesus preached. Theirs is a gospel without repentance. Rather than preaching against sin, they are preaching what David Wilkerson once called "The Gospel of Accommodation." They are failing this generation. They are doing a disservice to the Lord and His kingdom, because they are giving those people the illusion that becoming a disciple of Christ is easy. And they are persuading those who make "decisions for Christ" to think that they have become true disciples of Christ, when in fact they have not, but have actually joined a false representation of Christianity.

There are many churches like these today, but we need to get back to the gospel. We need to get back to following the pattern that Jesus gave us for making disciples. We need to give people the truth and not a candy-coated message or church experience. We may get fewer numbers of people, but at least they will be true disciples, and not crowd followers.

What about you? Are you a crowd follower or a true disciple of Jesus Christ? Are you an easy believer or have you made the decision to take up your cross and follow Jesus? I hope this article has served as a wake up call for you to show you your true spiritual condition and that of your church. And if you know that you are in right standing with God, then why not share this with those you love, so they can be, too?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you would like to become a disciple, consider enrolling in our Doulos Training School. You are invited to read The Top Ten Things Jesus TaughtWisdom for Wealthy Preachers and Prosperity TeachersThe Difference Between a Disciple and a Believer, The Cost of DiscipleshipPopularity of the GospelMichael Shigaba's Encounter with Jesus, Strive to Enter the Kingdom of God, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, A Warning for Married Christian Couples, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Rachael Mushala Second Testimony of HellZipporah Mushala's testimony of hell, Zipporah Mushala’s Third Testimony of Hell, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part I, Keeping Sundays Holy - Part II, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, Separation from the World, Life Transformation Groups, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Messages from the Lord for Catholics Worshipping Idols Only the Holy -- Three Shocking TestimoniesAngelica Zambrano Hell and Heaven
Baptized by Blazing FireTaken to HellAngelica Zambrano Second Visit to Hell
Australian Pastor Raised from the DeadNigerian Pastor Raised from the DeadRevelation of Hell to Seven Colombian Youths

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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