Wouldn’t it be great if we could live in a world without any “small print”? What if we could read an ad with no exceptions, disclaimers, or exclusions? What if an ad that said “entire store on sale” actually meant everything in the store?
I mean every coupon we try to use has some “small print” that usually excludes the very thing we want to buy. And just try to make a major purchase at one of those advertised prices. We can never be quite certain that things are exactly as they are presented.
We are drowning in the “small print”. It complicates every area of our lives. Every business that does any type of marketing has a slew of attorneys dedicated to making sure every base is covered within the “small print”.
And it can have a paralyzing effect.
We can become so confused, frightened, cautious, and stressed over the “small print” that we miss out on some of the good and important things that life has to offer. And it can happen to us in any area of our lives. Even in our spiritual lives.
I know because it happened to me.
I was well beyond the midpoint of life before I made the decision to truly accept Christ into my life. There were 32 years of my adult life where I would not even set foot in a church building. During those 32 years, I always knew that there was a God, but I had no desire to personally get to know Him.
It all seemed too complicated, demanding, restrictive and uncertain.
I was genuinely afraid of what the “small print” of Christianity might entail.
The messages that I heard coming out of the Christian community were so confusing that I felt like coming to faith in Christ was something that I couldn’t possibly understand, let alone do.
Some people made it seem very complicated and demanding. Indeed their form of faith seemed to me to be like those ads filled with exceptions, requirements, disclaimers, and exclusions. And if I didn’t meet all of the requirements, there was no reason for me to even try.
So I didn’t.
Then there were those who made it sound way too easy. I mean how could simply believing in Christ make me righteous with God. That was way too good to be true. There had to be some hidden “small print” somewhere that they weren’t telling me about. And I certainly didn’t want to start down that road only to be tripped up by that “small print” at a later date. It seemed safer just to avoid God and church.
So I did. Until the moment that I genuinely encountered Jesus.
The moment that He required a decision from me.
No more time to fret over what might be required or what I might be giving up. No more time to worry about the disclaimers or exclusions. No more time to be concerned about the “small print”.
He made it clear to me that my time to decide His place in my life was right then and right there – in that old gravel church parking lot.
So I did.
And at in that moment, I experienced an outpouring of grace that I did not know existed. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know how to describe it. I didn’t know what to do with it. But I knew that I had received it.
I had received it without conditions, restrictions, or qualifications. I knew that I didn’t deserve it. But that’s the point of grace. It was never intended for the deserving. Jesus never included any “small print” in the grace born out of His sacrifice on the Cross.
Our full acquittal is based strictly on our faith in Jesus – nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.
Yet we often continue to try to put qualifiers, limitations, restrictions, or requirements on grace. Qualifiers, limitations, restrictions, and requirements that Jesus never modeled or taught.
And that Jesus never intended!
I am fully convinced that there are many people who do not give Jesus a chance in their life because of our tendency to add “stuff” to the requirements for grace that are not there. We unintentionally create barriers between them and Jesus that do not exist.
And that is a tragedy of eternal proportions.
So how should we present Christianity to a skeptical and resistant world? What does “truth in advertising” require of us?
I believe that we simply stick with the basics. The basics of FAITH, GRACE, and LOVE.
That’s it. Those three words cover the details of Christianity. There are no other qualifiers, limitations, exemptions, exclusions, or whatever. There is no “small print”.
There is just FAITH, GRACE, and LOVE.
Faith is the access point to Christ. Actually it’s much more than that. Faith activates everything else. Nothing happens without faith. Faith alone establishes our righteousness. There is no “small print” involved.
Even if you have never set foot in a church, you are probably familiar with the words found in John 3:16. And you can rest assured that the phrase “whosoever believes in Him” includes everyone who believes. You don’t have to worry about any “small print” exclusions. Believe in Jesus as your Savior and you’re in. It is purely our faith in Jesus that activates grace.
The amazing grace of God is available to each of us — no disclaimers necessary. But indeed there is a requirement – a fully disclosed upfront requirement. It is the requirement that we accept the grace available to us. We accept it by our faith that Jesus accomplished on the cross all that is necessary for us to receive it. That’s it. Again, no “small print” involved.
As for the demands of Christianity, Jesus never needed a lawyer to approve His wording. He made sure that there was no remaining “small print” to be concerned about. He boiled it all down to one simple instruction: LOVE GOD AND LOVE OTHERS. Those five words cover every rule that anyone can dredge up from the Bible. If we can master loving God and loving others, we will automatically be living up to everything we are supposed to do. Period.
So if I were devising an advertising campaign for what we call Christianity, the logo would simply be:
BY FAITH, ACCEPT GRACE.
THROUGH GRACE, MODEL LOVE.
There would be no small print or disclaimers to be found anywhere, because they are neither needed nor relevant.
So if you are already good to go with Jesus, please don’t make it complicated for others. If you are not yet on board with Christ, please don’t let your fear of the “small print” stand in the way.
With Jesus, you always get straightforward “truth in advertising” that you can count on.
But be sure to be careful everywhere else!