Strolling with friends, I sip my white chocolate mocha on the way back to our London hotel. The cup warms my hands on the brisk January evening. This is my third attempt drinking coffee. The first time I spewed it out. A few days earlier, my second try—a raspberry mocha—was a success because sugar and whipped cream masked about 87.56% of the coffee flavor.
But something’s wrong. The overpowering sugar tingles in my throat. My raspberry mocha wasn’t this sweet. Where’s the bitterness that balances the flavors? I take a final sample before voicing my concerns in front of the experienced coffee drinkers.
“This doesn’t taste like coffee.” I hand the drink to one of the guys. He opens the lid and sniffs.
He laughs. “They left out the espresso.”
When I reflect on this incident, it reminds me of churches that mask the message of the gospel, which many people consider bitter, unpalatable, and foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18), behind tenants of scripture that are sweeter and easier for the masses to consume, such as loving one’s neighbor and serving the poor.
While these concepts are scriptural and important, the situation becomes critical when churches focus on them to the point that they leave out the essential ingredient—the gospel.
Here are some basics that cannot be ignored.
Everyone has sinned.
Romans 3:23-24 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
What God calls sin is sin—no matter how socially acceptable it is.
There is a price for our sin.
Romans 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God loves us and sent his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins.
Romans 5:8- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When we accept Jesus’ death on the cross as the payment for our sins, we are new creations.
2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Just as my beverage wasn’t coffee without the espresso, Christianity isn’t Christianity without the gospel—no matter what it looks like on the outside or how sweet it tastes.