“Yes, Ma’am! I would like some sweet tea!” The waitress leaves and returns with a large glass of liquid in a red translucent glass. You immediately notice that the ice that was supplied with the beverage apparently took up most of the glass, because it’s breaking the surface of the liquid inside the glass.
Not willing to let appearance dampen the meal you eagerly raise the glass to your lips and begin a brief but complete analysis of the contents of the glass.
Note from Kip…
Living in the south eastern United States, you learn to appreciate a good glass of sweet tea. No, it’s not cold tea with sugar in it. It is much more than that if prepared properly by someone who really cares about serving the traditional southern beverage.
But like so many less than faithful food services these days, what you sometimes end up with is sweet tea in name only. It’s been watered down and then further weakened by over application of ice to cool the mixture that should have been cold to begin with but wasn’t, so you end up with something that tastes more like lightly sweetened sugar water with an odd coloring to it.
You can call the waitperson over and ask them for a fresher glass of tea, but the probability is that when they return with another glass it will have about the same composition. If that turns out to be the case, you might just as well conclude that you are not going to get ‘Sweet Tea’, just this less than accurate representation of it.
The vast majority of us don’t want whatever we are taking in to be diluted. We want the real deal. We want the full impact of the original version of whatever we happen to be sampling.
I’m going to set the sweet tea imagery aside and let it steep a bit while we consider the dilution of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our diluted offering of service to Him, and the watered-down presentation of God’s love and mercy to a lost world.
I typically write in such a manner as to open with a vague premise and then weave the story to come back to that premise with a point to it. We’re going to do it a little different today.
No one wants diluted product, Not Jesus, nor God, or the people we come in contact with every day. You might just as well take it back to the kitchen and hopefully when you return it will not be with the same watered-down glass.
Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 (HCSB)
Even better than sweet tea is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you’re a big picture Christian, you understand that this Jesus is not only the Son of God, but He’s always existed with God and when the book of Genesis tells us that ‘In the beginning God created’, it was talking about God the Son, Jesus.
Yes, indeed! Way back there before the words ‘way back’ had any meaning at all. Before time and space were, there was the Father, Son, and Spirit. This unified being having three distinct forms in one magnificent entity was and is God.
Jesus, God the Son, since there wasn’t any time to blind him to what we would eventually call the future, had a deep abiding love for something, us! No, we were not even created yet, but even then, He knew how much He loved us and the cost of that love.
Despite being aware of all that, it was His desire that He have a relationship with us. As a result, Genesis 1:1 took place and there was time and space. Some narrow-minded brainy types are convinced that it was an event when nothing exploded into everything. It wasn’t a big bang, it was a big breath.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.
Hebrews 11:3 (HCSB)
As simple as a command given to the invisible elements Jesus spoke and made all things visible from the invisible.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
John 1:1-3 (HCSB)
Nothing that was created, was not created by the Word, Jesus. He was with God and He was God. There in the beginning.
Thus, a journey of many generations followed Jesus knowing all that must take place to secure that relationship with us.
The banishment from the Garden due to sin. See the eating of the fruit wasn’t the real sin. The real sin was defiance of God. All sin is defiance of God.
God has established a standard, we disobey that standard and we are guilty of sin. It’s as simple as that.
God established the ‘Law’ beginning with the Ten Commandments. Those laws are in effect today. But see the Law was impossible for any man to fully abide by. In our fallen nature, we of our own ability can’t possibly follow the Law faithfully.
So, Jesus came to take our punishment for that sin we incur when we do not follow the law to the letter.
We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Ephesians 1:7-8 (HCSB)
He sacrificed Himself, so that we could be made sinless. ‘Redemption’ is a transaction. We surrender our lives to Him, in return, His Grace cleanses us from the guilt and penalty, which He’s already paid for with His life’s blood. In giving our lives to Him we have committed to following His will, loving and doing whatever He asks of us.
The Gospel. Love of all time. Even the time when time wasn’t. Jesus created for His love. Jesus died for His love. For us. So that we can have a relationship with Him.
But then we tend to water down that Gospel. Dilute it so that it can go further and cover more people, or so we think.
If we just talk about the love part, then folks will be more accepting of our message. If we don’t put a bunch of rules on them they will hang with us.
He calls us to love yes. But He also calls us to repent, follow, and obey. Part of that, a major part of that, is sharing His Gospel. Not in part, but the whole thing.
Then there is the dilution of our service. I tend to be a fairly analytical person, I want to know why. I want to understand the cause and effect of things. I take comfort in understanding how things come to be and what I’ve concluded over the years is that we dilute our service to the King of Kings, because we really have taken a liking to the diluted Gospel we espouse.
If we really believed the full Gospel message, then there would be no way that we could avoid being a Disciple of Jesus or making Disciples!
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20 (HCSB)
It doesn’t even take the great commission to cause us to shrink away from the service that Jesus calls us to.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
Matthew 16:24 (HCSB)
Even this simple direction given by the Lord we dilute by apparent trivialization. How many times are we faced with knowing full well what Jesus us would have do but instead we justify fulfilling our desires, and regarding the words of Jesus as something He really didn’t mean.
This is God we are talking about. God who, loved us so before we existed that He was willing to endure all He had to endure just so He could have a relationship with us. I don’t think He has an issue with saying what He means. When He says we must deny ourselves and follow Him, how dare we dilute His directive to the point that we can go on about our own plans and desires, without regard to His call to obedience.
The first two issues cited ultimately results in diluting the third item, our witness for Christ.
He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:7-8 (HCSB)
If we don’t believe in the true Gospel of Jesus, if we water down our service to Him as a result, what possible fruitfulness can there be to our witness?
It’s pretty doubtful that even if you go through the motions and get the words all just right, that it will be for nothing, because if we are not giving heed to the Gospel, applying it in our lives, rendering the service to the Lord as He demands, there isn’t any point in presenting a plastic representation of a testimony to a non-believer. The word hypocrite comes to mind. That is the same word that we hear time and time again applied to the church. Is it any reason?
I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)
Don’t Be Diluted
Some of the things I’ve talked about here may have stung a bit. For some, it may make you angry at me for saying it. For others, you understand but you just don’t want to face the reality of where you stand with Jesus, or if you stand at all. And some, will take this to heart and consider what the Gospel’s contract with us really means and apply it to our lives. You will seek to serve Him in any way He sees fit and as a result your witness will take on meaning to those who watch you from a distance.
If we want the real deal, He’s ready to make our cup overflow with His grace, mercy and love. It’s there for us if we are, and don’t dilute it.