We have been indoctrinated with the idea that if a person just believes the gospel, all their needs will be met. This began innocently enough back in the 80’s and 90’s when well intentioned authors began writing books designed to help churches reach more people. The idea was simple enough. If we could survey people and determine their “felt needs”, we could re-package the gospel and market it as a “cure all” for their problems. An example of this is found in the following quote taken from the book, Inside the mind of unchurched Harry and Mary. “What Harry is interested in is feeling better about himself. He is asking, “What can help me deal with my pain”. He is interested in “his marriage, his friendships, his career, his recovery from past hurts, and so on” Harry is not interested in truth, therefore, he does not react well to “Thus sayeth the Lord.”
If the gospel is reduced to something that can meet a persons “felt needs”, then it becomes just one of many products a person can consume in order to make themselves feel better. But what happens when they find something else that makes them feel better, like a new girlfriend, or better job? Or, worse yet, what happens when they take the gospel “medicine”, and the pain and suffering of life collapse down on them? They no longer “feel” better? Their “felt needs” are not being met? They will abandon the phony gospel they were sold, and go in search of the next “cure all”.
The gospel is not meant to meet a persons “felt needs”, but rather, to meet a persons real need, which is to be reconciled with a holy God. The gospel message is intended to show a person they are a sinner, condemned by Holy God. Quit frankly, the gospel is designed to make a person uncomfortable with themselves, rather than feel good about themselves. Only when a person sees the hopelessness of their condition, can they gaze upon the glory of the cross and see it for what it really is. In the name of “reaching” more people, we have become nothing more than ear scratchers. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) In an article from The New Yorker magazine, we catch a glimpse of modern day preaching. “The preacher, instead of looking out upon the world, looks out upon public opinion, trying to find out what the public would like to hear. Then he tries his best to duplicate that.”
We must boldly proclaim the gospel, once for all delivered to the saints, and trust the Holy Spirit to make it effectual in the hearts of those who hear it. May the words of A.W. Tozer inspire us. “…the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross; before the cross it bows and toward the cross it points with carefully staged histrionics—but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.”