Christ’s church has never been fully approved or accepted by the world, and it never will be. If you live for Jesus, you won’t have to separate yourself from secular company; they’ll do it for you. All you have to do is live for him. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself reproached, rejected, called evil: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake” (Luke 6:22, NKJV).

However, Jesus adds that this is the path to true fulfillment. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). In other words, “The only way that you will find meaning in life is by giving your all for me. Then you’ll find true joy, peace and satisfaction.” Christ tells us, “My church is without spot or wrinkle. When you come to me, you must be willing to lay down all sins. You must surrender all to me, die completely to self, ungodly ambition and ego. By faith, you’ll be buried with me, and I will raise you up into new life.”

Think about what it means to be without spot or wrinkle. We know what a spot or a stain represents, but what about a wrinkle? Have you ever heard the phrase, “a new wrinkle”? It means adding a new idea to an existing concept. A wrinkle, in that sense, applies to those who try to improve on the gospel. It suggests an easy way to attain heaven without full surrender to Christ.

That’s the kind of gospel that’s being preached in many churches today. The sermons are aimed only at meeting people’s needs. As I read Jesus’ words, I see that this kind of preaching will not work. It doesn’t accomplish the true work of the gospel.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not against preaching comfort and strength to God’s people. As a shepherd of the Lord, I’m called to do exactly that at times. If I preach only to people’s needs, though, and ignore Christ’s call to sacrifice and lay down our lives, then true needs will never be met. Jesus’ words are clear: Our needs are met by dying to ourselves and taking up his cross.