Monday, February 23, 2009

If you can't say something nice...

John 7:7

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil."

I am reading through John, and this verse has stuck out to me the past couple of days. This is not a very popular concept today. Not very "seeker friendly". We're not supposed to talk about good and evil. We are DEFINITELY not supposed to talk about people being evil. We want to present a picture of Jesus that is "nice". If people can only see how nice He is, then they will like Him, and accept Him as their saviour, and they will start to become nice too. And eventually everything and everyone will be nice. There is a problem though. That scenario requires you to ignore a whole lot of scripture in order to present this as the complete picture of our Lord. He IS nice. He is absolutely good. And He IS love. But... He is also the righteous Judge of all the earth. He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who breaks the seven seals, releasing horrendous judgments on the whole earth. And those judgments are a manifestation of His holy, perfect love. But, they don't fit into this generation's depiction of the "nice" Jesus. And when we tell the whole truth, many will hate Him, and they will hate us too. Joh 15:18 "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."

Does this give us a license to be obnoxious? Do we stand on the street corner and shake our fist at "the world", telling them to "turn or burn"? Of course not. The world was not offended with Jesus because He was acting like a jerk. They were offended because He spoke the truth in love without compromise. And He called them to obedience to that truth. We love the stories where Jesus deals so gently and kindly with sinners. The woman at the well. The one caught in adultery. But, He always finishes by calling them to repentance. He embraced them in their sin in order to call them out of it. That is love. Anything less is a counterfeit. Anything less is NOT love. We can be really nice, and NOT be demonstrating His love. Well intentioned humanists are often quite nice. They sometimes sacrifice their time and energy to do really nice things for people in need. They feed the hungry, and help poor people keep their water and electricity on. But they don't bring them into the knowledge of the truth, and a restored relationship with their Creator. Nice is not bad; nice is just not enough. Works of compassion should be a way of life for the church. We are called to practically demonstrate His love to the world. We just have to make sure that this demonstration includes a humble, clear declaration of the truth. Jesus died to bring people to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and to reconciliation with God. He has entrusted that message to us.

2Corinthians 5 ...we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Seeker friendly is not a bad idea. Jesus was seeker friendly. Some of those seekers fell in love with Him. Some went away despising Him, and eventually took part in His crucifixion. Would the world have any reason to crucify the "nice" Jesus we are told to present to them? Why would they do that?

Jesus prayed in John 17,

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Later, toward the end of His time on earth, He spoke to His disciples...

John 15

Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'
"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Jesus is nice. Really. I believe that. But the heavenly beings in the throne room don't cry, "Nice, nice, nice", day and night. He is holy, and righteous in His love. And the perfect wisdom of that loves calls us out of our sin to follow Him. His kindness is meant to lead us to repentance. Human kindness doesn't want to offend anyone or hurt their feelings. That may be nice, but it's not necessarily love.

Lord, help us to represent you boldly, and accurately, with humility and compassion.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Interesting article

This is an interesting and sobering article a friend sent me. Its about a meeting of world leaders to discuss the current world financial crisis. These are supposed to be "the best and the brightest", and their conclusions are not very encouraging.

I know Someone with the wisdom to solve all this... if we were willing to listen.