If you were part of the Multiply Gathering in Austin last month, you may remember an analogy that Francis used to illustrate what happens when we add to the gospel. What he ended up with was the drink pictured blow.
It’s an ugly concoction that’s hard to look at and even harder to drink. It used to be juice, made solely of fruits and vegetables. But simply by adding stuff that we find appealing – whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and Skittles – what began as healthy and refreshing quickly became unappetizing and impure. The juice in the picture to the left is now unrecognizable, if it even qualifies as juice at all.
This is what becomes of the gospel when we try to spice it up with our own “words of eloquent wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 tells us that when we do this, we can actually empty the cross of its power. That’s why, in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul resolved to preach nothing but the simple gospel: Jesus’ death on the cross.
The death of Jesus hardly seems appealing to fleshly eyes. In fact, reading 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 makes it clear that, like a child who hates healthy vegetable juice, the lost will naturally see our gospel message as foolishness. So it’s okay if preaching it makes us feel uncomfortable. But we must preach it. And though people may like Skittles, throwing some in a glass of vegetable juice actually ruins the once healthy and refreshing drink. Likewise, adding to the gospel in an attempt to make the cross more appealing actually serves to empty the cross of its inherent power. For we know that this gospel, and this gospel alone, is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rm 1:16).
To watch this illustration from the November Gathering, begin listening here at time marker 1:14:33.