Heart Tracks - Honest To God 6/13/18
Honest To God
"Who is this in royal robes, marching in His great strength? It is I, the Lord, announcing your salvation! It is I, the Lord, who has the power to save." Isaiah 63:1......"Mercy and kindness, severity and judgement. The heart of God is big enough and passionate enough to contain both. Ours must be too.....Behind the King who rode a donkey into Jerusalem is a Swordsman who rides a warhorse in Revelation." Chris Tiegreen...."The grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart and to heal the broken one." John Newton
As I reflect back upon more than three decades of ministry, and specifically my preaching and sharing of the truth of the Gospel, there is a question that I ask myself. How honest have I been with those who have heard and listened to me? How honest have I been about the whole Word of God, the reality of who Jesus Christ is, and of a Father God who is both perfect love, and perfect justice?
Someone said that Jesus Christ is being lost in the very Church that bears His name. The proof of this is everywhere. I see statements on social media about Him that conflict with what the whole of the Bible says of Him. His extending of God's grace, mercy and forgiveness are emphasized, but His demand upon us of holiness and righteousness aren't. In so many ways, I believe we are inviting people to a Jesus who doesn't exist. A PC Jesus that the world will find a lot more acceptable. A Jesus who doesn't offend, who offers everything and requires the minimum, if He requires anything at all.
I get that there are those in the Church who have been top heavy on hell, judgement, and who have presented His holiness in rigid, unloving ways. I get that there is a great desire to show the grace, mercy, and love of the King to people in desperate need of all of that. To present to the unbelieving the portrait of a God who is always angry, eager to punish, and merciless in all His ways, is a deception. However it is just as great a deception to give a picture of a God, of Jesus Christ, who meekly and gently walks along, dispensing healing, blessing, and comfort, all the while asking, no, begging us to accept Him. The reality is that He is both mercy and love and severity and judgement. He forgives freely, but He demands obedience, the pursuit of holiness of life, and lays down the clear consequences of our rejection of Him and the life He invites us to. He let walk away all those who could not, would not give themselves wholly to Him.
Jesus was never anything less than honest with His hearers. He came as the Shepherd who was also the King. He made clear to His listeners what following Him meant and what it would cost. His coming to us cost Him His life. It will cost us ours as well. His destination was always the cross, and it remains ours too. He came to a world trapped in and doomed by its sin. A world that is still trapped in and doomed by that sin for all who do not know Him. He came to seek and save the lost, and He held back nothing of the truth as to what it was that condemned His hearers, and how He alone was their only hope. Most rejected that call, and most still do. It is not the number of hands raised or baptisms undergone that bring entrance into His Kingdom. It is the hard heart, held in the grip of sin, but broken by the grace of God that finds entry. That requires the proclamation of Christ as He is, and not as the flesh and the world would have Him to be. Christ as He is will always offend the flesh and the sin that controls it. Yet Christ as He is remains the only hope of the world. He will never cease to be true to Himself and who He is. Will we, will you and I, be so true as well? Will we be honest with both God and men? We all give account for the Christ we have presented to the world, and none more than those entrusted with proclaiming His Words. May the Christ we present, that you and I present, be Christ as He is, and not who the world would like Him to be.