A Time for Choosing

A Time for Choosing

 

In Jeremiah 26 we read an account of Jeremiah standing before the Temple preaching the word of the Lord to the people of Judah. He did this because the Lord commanded it so:

“Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word.” – Jeremiah 26:2

Notice the Lord’s command was not only to speak, but to speak everything – not to hold back a single word of God’s commands.

We never have the option of truncating or soft-selling God’s word. Our job is not to make it palatable but to make it clear. Unfortunately when you do that, people don’t like it.

In Jeremiah’s case, they wanted to kill him:

“When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the Lord and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the Lord. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.” – Jeremiah 26:10-11

This will always be the result of sharing the truth of God’s word with a lost and dying world. They will not only not like you for it, they will in some cases actively seek to do you harm.

The problem with much of the church today is we can’t handle that. We want everyone to like us. We’ve confused loving people with making them feel good about themselves. And, as much as we say we do this out of a desire not to offend or to be loving, the reality is we do it for ourselves because we worship the idol of popularity and being liked. We are people pleasers (Galatians 1:10) rather than people lovers.

When we present God’s word and get the reaction Jeremiah got (or that Jesus got, for that matter), we think we’ve done something wrong when, in fact, we’ve done something right. We measure our effectiveness by people’s reactions rather than by our faithfulness to the message of scripture. We think by softening the edges or not speaking of things like sin or God’s wrath and judgment we will obtain a hearing for the gospel. But, with no understanding of sin or God’s wrath there can be no understanding of the gospel.

The irony is, the more we try to be inoffensive, the more we compromise with the world, the more they dislike us – because nothing short of complete capitulation will satisfy the wicked.

That’s the choice we have, complete capitulation or faithfulness to the word of God. If our goal is to be honored by the world, we must choose the first, if our goal is to honor God we must choose the second. There is no in between. We must either be cold or hot (Revelation 3:15).

The Christian life is difficult. That’s a promise from the Lord (John 16:33). If we seek to make it easy and non-confrontational, we will end up being unfaithful. But, if we stand firm in the face of opposition and are uncompromising on the truth of the gospel, the reward is great (Matthew 5:11-12).

The time has come for the church of Jesus Christ to choose this day whom they will serve.

 

Photo credit: Sebastian Anthony via Visual hunt / CC BY-ND

Are You “Unclean?” Then Rejoice for He is Willing!

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on
his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” – Luke 5:12

Are You "Unclean?" The Rejoice for He is Willing!This simple statement, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” sums up the gospel. Often we concentrate on the first part of the verse concerning Jesus’ willingness and rejoice in that – as well we should! But there are two things to notice here. Not only is Christ willing to cleanse those who come to Him but those who come are always aware of their uncleanliness and their inability to do anything about it apart from Christ. This man knew he was unclean and knew he had no hope of dealing with that uncleanliness unless Christ did a miracle in his life.

The same is true for us. When we recognize our sin and our bankrupt state we need never fear rejection by Christ. He has come to call not the righteous but sinners (Luke 5:32) and He is always willing to cleanse and set free those broken over their sin.

Do you see your need for Christ? If not, pray that he will open your eyes to your true condition then throw yourself on his mercy, for He is willing.

Lazarus Come Out! (But keep it to yourself, you don’t have the only “story,” you know.)

Perhaps you’ve heard of Rosaria Champagne-Butterfield. She is, by her own admission, a former radical lesbian feminist professor lazaruswho became a follower of Christ through the love of a Presbyterian pastor and his wife and the grace of God. Her testimony is detailed in her book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.

Perhaps too, you’ve heard about her recent visit to Wheaton University. She was invited to Wheaton to share her testimony of God’s amazing grace. Yet, at this Christian university, not all were happy about that. A group of about 100 students demonstrated outside the chapel before she spoke. Their concern? That someone might hear Butterfield’s story and assume the way she has responded to her sexual sin is the way everyone must respond.

One of the demonstrators said:

We feared that if no conversation was added to the single message of the speaker that students who are not very well informed were going to walk into chapel, hear the message, and have misconceptions confirmed or that students who are LGBT would be told that this story is the absolute way that things happen.

Another held up a sign that said:

I’m gay and a beloved child of God

Then there’s this post-modern gem:

Rosaria’s story is valid, mine is too

Cue “We Are the World” and grab your neighbor’s hand.

I hate to burst the bubble of these young people but Butterfield’s story is absolutely the way things happen when someone repents of their sin and comes to Christ. Now, I don’t mean everyone will get married to a pastor, have children and become a Christian author. But, every person who’s truly been converted will turn their back on their old way of life, hate their sin, cease to be identified by it and begin walking in the direction of Christ – whatever that looks like for them. But one thing is certain, what it doesn’t look like is standing outside university chapels with signs identifying yourself as someone who embraces both their sin and Christ. If that is your “story” then it can be valid only if Rosaria’s (and countless others) is not and vice versa.

When I started to write this, my thought was these students simply don’t understand the gospel. And for some of them that may be true. For those in that category, I pray their eyes will be opened to the truth that no matter their sin, Christ stands ready to forgive and transform them if they will repent and trust Him.

But, I think it goes deeper than that for others. Rosaria Champagne-Butterfield is a tribute to the depth of God’s grace and mercy. She has been dramatically transformed by the Spirit of God. She has by the power of the Holy Spirit turned her back on a life-dominating sin and moved from being a hell-bound sinner to a heaven-bound saint. Those who would demonstrate against such a thing don’t just misunderstand the gospel, they hate the gospel. These are the kind of people who, standing outside Lazarus’ tomb and seeing his rotting flesh restored and his dead body returned to life, worried about the impact it would have on their personal agenda rather than rejoicing at the mighty work of God in their midst.

These students should be ashamed.  The solution is not, as they suggest, a “conversation” – the refuge of all postmodern haters of truth – but repentance. They should fall on their face before the Lord Whose workmanship they have denigrated and seek His forgiveness for treating a display of His grace as an occasion to further their personal agendas.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” – Luke 9:23