The Emperor has no clothes on! The Emperor's New Clothes is a Danish fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1837. The story goes like this:
There once lived a King who cared excessively about fine clothes. He loved to show them off whenever he could. One day he heard from two men who were swindlers in disguise. They claimed that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth ever seen. This cloth, they said, also had a special quality about it: it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position.
It occurred to the King that he himself might not be able to see the cloth. And if he couldn’t see it, he would be declaring to all that he was unfit to be King. So the King first sent two of his most loyal and trusted men to see it. Of course, since neither of them wanted to admit that he could not see the cloth. That would be an admission that they were either stupid or unfit to be the King’s loyal servants. So they both praised it.
Jesus did not come start a new Religion. He didn’t come to start Christianity. In fact, the Christianity that exists today is not His idea at all. That is the reason that so many people across this country and around the world are trying to reform it to bring it more into conformity with God’s Word.
Jesus didn’t come to move people beyond the Mosaic Law because it was wrong, or “legal” (which every law, including the Royal Law of Liberty that James mentions, by nature must be!), or inapplicable today. He came, according to His own explicit testimony, to lead people back to God. If our contemporary concepts were used to describe Jesus’ first advent, we would say that He came as a revivalist, not as an evangelist. He came to revitalize peoples’ faith in the one, true God; He did not come as an evangelist intent on starting a new religion and then converting people to it. And He taught His apostles to do exactly what He had come to do and nothing different from it.
We all know Christians who hop from one church to another until they find one that fits them. At some point usually, these Christians find their niche (like the rest of the world’s religious people). They find a group that makes them feel, in the best of senses, warm and fuzzy.
They feel accepted and removed from under the microscope of judgment. They find themselves capable of service and commended for the service they give. They find like-minded people who see the world, understand the Bible, and implement their Christian responsibilities in the same way. While there usually is not 100% agreement on every issue, enough is agreed on to make weekly gathering for worship and Bible study a real pleasure. They have become a part of a larger family.
They are so contented that they have very little inclination to study and discuss the different viewpoints held by other Christians. The group that they have found “works” for them so their interest in discussing alternative views holds little attraction. And part of this complacency arises both from the fact that many are not as knowledgeable as they should be (and they admit it) and from the fact that the issues in question are presented in such a way that the impression is given that a person needs a seminary education to understand and communicate what he believes.
I like my veggies fairly soft. My son and daughter like theirs crunchy. I say, if I’m going to use all that energy to chew, it better be steak that I’m eating. Green beans (I called them string beans growing up) should be soft but not mushy just like carrots and broccoli and cauliflower. I don’t want the “life cooked out of my veggies,” but I don’t want them raw either.
Our calling today is to go to the hurting with a message of comfort springing from genuine love. God never called us to convert anyone. In fact, He never called anyone at any time to convert others. There is no command in Scripture that requires us to become convert specialists. I know that sounds radical, but it seems heretical only because of the way we’ve had our spiritual meals (and more specifically our theology) served to us. We’ve had them served one way for so long that we’ve grown so use to that taste that any other taste is unpalatable.
Every generation has to deal with this same problem. Even in the first century A.D., Jesus rebukes that generation for not coming to Him and believing what He was preaching to them because they were very comfortable with the way they were living and what they were believing. At that time, Jesus told them three short parables: the attendants of the bridegroom and the groom, the old garment and the new, unshrunken patch, and the new wine and the old wineskins. These parables were the answer to the question that the disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus. The record of that question is given in Matt. 9:14 and in Mk. 2:18:
“Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?’”
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