Rickrolling and Religionrolling

Have you been rickrolled?

For the uninitiated, getting rickrolled is a recent internet phenom where a person basically gets e-punked by clicking on an interesting link and getting redirected to Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up - an annoyingly bad yet quirkily compelling 1980's video that (in train wreck fashion) - you just can't seem to look away from.

Who's been rickrolled? Everyone from the New York Mets to the Muppets to Doom to even Scientology!

Here's the way the bait and switch goes:

Person One: "Hey - check out this awesome preview clip for Pirates of The Caribbean 5: The Return of Johnny Depp's Eyeshadow."

Person Two: "Cool! That sounds awesome (click) - oh nooooo! I've been rickrolled!"

It just seems like human nature to bait and switch, doesn't it? To promise one thing and deliver something entirely different for the sake of fun, cruel amusement or even revenge.

Have you ever been religionrolled? No, this isn't an internet thing. This is a Christianity thing.

Here's the way the bait and switch goes:

Person One: "Hey, can I tell you about an amazing message about forgiveness and the incredible love of God?"

Person Two: "Yes – I'd love to hear about that…(listens to message) - oh nooooo! I've been religionrolled!"

What happened in that conversation? How does religionrolling work? Easy. First, invite someone to listen to the greatest promise in the universe - which is the gospel message. In fact, the word 'gospel' means 'good news'. The 'good news' part is the fact that God loves us too much to live without us for eternity. So much, in fact, that He sent Jesus Christ to earth. Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. Then He came back from the tomb, proving He is the Savior of the world and that death had been conquered.

That is great news - but that's not the best part. The best part is that we can receive the free gift of eternal life simply by trusting in Christ's death and resurrection as our only hope of salvation.

But here is where the religionrolling comes in. Instead of telling them this amazing news, you bait and switch it like this:

Person One: "Ready to hear this great news?"

Person Two: "Totally!"

Person One: "OK. You can have eternal life in heaven by trusting Christ, but there are a few things you have to do before that. First, you have to repent. Turn from all your sins. Feel really bad about them. Next, make Jesus 'Lord of your life'. I know you can't truly do either of those things until you trust Christ and He gives you the power to repent and submit to His Lordship, but I guess you're out of luck otherwise."

Person Two: "Oh nooooo! I've been religionrolled!"

To me, baiting and switching with a video is one thing…but baiting and switching with the truth of the gospel message is something entirely different. In fact, the Apostle Paul had the same opinion when he wrote these words to a church that was definitely religionrolling -

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:6-9).

These are some of the strongest words written in the Bible, because this is one of the most important things in the heart and mind of God. What Paul is saying is that there is only one type of good news, and that is the good news of salvation by grace through faith alone. To add anything to a simple act of trusting in Christ is to propose another gospel - which is really the 'un-gospel'.

So - if you're in to religionrolling, might I suggest that you change your approach and give people the straight up truth about the straight up good news of Jesus Christ:
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).
That's no bait and switch…that's the greatest news in the universe!
Head: Adding anything to the gospel message (trusting in Christ alone for salvation) is an offense to God and a deception for people.

Heart: The battle for the true gospel is one that every believer needs to be involved in. If you knew about a drug store that was dispensing tainted medication, would you do something about it? Of course! So let's get busy protecting the 'good' in 'good news'!

Hands: One of the best ways to be prepared for this fight for the truth is to know the truth inside and out. Take some time this week to learn and share the Gospel Journey.


Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to lane@dare2share.org.