I’m a Canadian. Canadians are nice people. We like that people think we’re nice. We want to keep them thinking we’re nice. So, yes we tend to be people pleasers. We don’t like people going “aboat rocking the boat.” Here’s the thing. The Gospel rocks boats! Did I mention Canadians don’t like that?
A product of people pleasing is “taming the gospel,” and this has filtered into how we preach and how we witness to the lost. What happens when people pleasers bring the gospel to a pridefully, sinful and selfish people? Well, we make our gospel appeal to an already narcissistic, rich and self-satisfied generation by marketing it as yet another “product.” What is it? A gospel of cheap grace. You want to go to heaven right? Streets of gold? No tears?…blah blah blah.. In the word’s of Paris Reidhead “our appeal is as much to selfishness as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop planning how they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing.” No talk of a Holy God who dwells in unapproachable light. No talk of the justice of his requirements, man’s utter rebellion, the monstrous enormity of man’s sin, guilt and offence against God. No talk of the justice of hell for all sinners. No talk of being crucified with Christ.
No talk of becoming a bondslave. The Gospel is peddled from pulpits as cheaply and shamelessly as a snake oil salesman fleeces common folk. Who doesn’t want a means to escape the passing pangs of a guilty conscience when you “mess up?” Who doesn’t want a carte blanche?
To be fair, most who preach this way are not being willfully deceptive. Some know better, but tone it down because they are scared of how people may react. Others are simply blind because its all they’ve ever known. Leonard Ravenhill once said, and I agree, “If Jesus came back today he wouldn’t cleanse the temple he would cleanse the pulpit!”
Take a moment and have a listen to this exerpt from Charles Finney’s writings. He wrote it from a satirical perspective. Finney exposes many pitfalls of people pleasing preaching and evangelism.