As you may know, Brooke and I have three daughters, and the oldest two (Ava and Greta) attend the Sonflower Preschool here at the church building. They absolutely love it! They love their teachers, their friends, the playground, and all of the special things that they get to do at the school. One of their favorite things is when we allow them to buy/bring a Lunchable to school for their lunch.
If you’re among the uninitiated, these Lunchables are small, kid-friendly, packaged boxes of food that consist of a few pieces of lunchmeat, cheese, crackers, and some kind of tiny candy bar that isn’t big enough to justify its own wrapper. Sometimes the folks over at the Lunchables factory substitute the cheese, meat and crackers for a “make-your-own-pizza” entrée, which we’ve learned to avoid because they are, well…a nasty abomination and a crime against food.
Last night, Brooke realized that our pantry wasn’t quite as stocked as we had thought, and we had to do some clever scrounging for dinner. The girls were given crackers and some sliced cheese and allowed to make their own cheese & crackers. Although the contents of their dinner were almost identical to the contents of the Lunchables that they LOVE, let’s just say that they weren’t nearly as excited about last night’s dinner. As dinner’s go, it was a failure of epic proportions.
So, what was the problem? The problem, in this dad’s opinion, was packaging. I am convinced that if those same crackers and cheese had come out of a brightly colored box from the grocery store – instead of our boring pantry - our dinner would have gone very differently.
Why do some people reject the Gospel? There are lots of reasons why people might not accept the good news of Jesus, aren’t there? If we’re being honest, many people simply don’t want to change their lives, and they reject anything that asks them to make those changes. Maybe there are some people in the world who still have never heard the Gospel, and they would accept it if they had an opportunity. Some people, however, I believe are thrown off (and in some cases, even “put off”) by the “packaging” that we might use.
What is this “packaging” of the Gospel that I’m talking about? Basically, it is the second ingredient found in Ephesians 4:15, where we are told to speak the “truth in love.” The Gospel is certainly the “truth,” but are we “packaging” it in a loving way? Are we presenting it (and living it) in such a way that makes it as attractive as possible to those we come into contact with?
To be clear, the Gospel doesn’t need “packaging” in the same way that those cheese and crackers needed it; it is the simple, clear, easily understood message of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. But think about this: has our lifestyle, our moodiness, our attitude, or some other kind of human “packaging” ever interfered with the effectiveness of the Gospel? I sure hope not, but if I’m honest with myself, it probably has.
Sometimes I don’t live out the Gospel in my life. Sometimes I don’t have the kind of love that I should for the lost. Sometimes I give my greatest creative efforts to “dress up” things that aren’t the Gospel, and I leave the Gospel in the “boring pantry” of my life. If I package the Gospel in these ways in my life, is anyone else going to want it?
I would like to propose a challenge to myself and to the rest of God’s people: let’s make an effort to give the Gospel the “packaging” it deserves! As God’s people, let’s present this soul-saving message in the most beautiful, attractive, life-changing way possible! Let’s live the kind of lives that make the Gospel “fly off the shelves” and into the hands of spiritually hungry people; people who might be more likely to be interested in the Gospel if it doesn’t seem like it’s coming out of our “boring pantry.”
And in the meantime, if you have a case of Lunchables lying around, my kids would love to have them. Thanks.