We are so eager to spread the good news. We love to share our testimony. We enjoy praising the name of Jesus that we are so loved by our heavenly Father. Why are we so fearful of admonishment? Why do we rarely teach? Why do we choose the course of least resistance at the cost of the lives of those we break bread with? Why have we so numbed ourselves to the severity of the Gospel we proclaim that we choose to seek comfort and peace in this life while sending those in our care off into an eternity of pain and unrest? Do we not believe in the promises? Do we not believe in the warnings, the consequences, the costs? The Gospel of Jesus is not there to make us happy. It is there to change us. It is there to transform us. This implies that what we were and what we still are in many ways is not the ideal and is need of transformation and change. Therefore, we need to change. We must change. To reject change and to reject transformation is to reject Jesus and reject the Gospel. Worship songs mean nothing without change. An inspiring message means nothing without change. Any and all Christian activity done in the name of Jesus without change is meaningless. There must be change. We don’t live under the banner of Christ with the understanding that we are fine and all that remains are rejoicing and laughter. The banner of Christ that hides our life in its shadow declares to us on a daily basis that we are sinners, we need to repent and change and we are not finished. As a Christian you are still under the care of the physician. Therefore, admonishment and teaching in the name of Jesus and with wisdom is not only a blessing but it is life-saving. We need correction and admonishment when we stray from the light of Christ. Admonishment in this scenario is true love. Love that desires peace, unity and comfort at the cost of truth, life and unity with Christ is not love at all. This is hate. This has not real concern for the other person. Be wise and careful how you teach and admonish. Pray and pray again before doing so. Have patience and be quick to pray and seek the Lord’s will before you do either. But for Christ’s sake and the sake of those you love, teach, rebuke, admonish and love.
We live in a world of abundant and overpowering distractions. Take a moment to count how many different voices are calling out to you to do, to see, to go, to buy, etc. Sadly, the God of all creation has a tendency to blend too easily into this crowd of voices. We are busy beings, trying to do as many things as we possibly can every day, week, month and year. Found within this busyness is, for many, a Sunday morning church service. Within this service is a language so grand and powerful that for an hour we forget the limitations of this world and our spirits are infused with a hopeful confidence that seems strong enough to do just about anything. Within that church we speak of God as the creator of the heavens and the earth. Within that church we speak of God as the first and the last and the beginning and the end. Within that church we speak of Jesus Christ as the redeemer who pays our debts and gives us rebirth.
This tone and these words are not normal. We often don’t use them outside of the church walls. In our daily lives we display an insultingly lackadaisical approach to the presence of that tone or the meaning of those words. Do we really understand what it means to say that he was the beginning and will be the end? Do we really understand what it means to profess faith and submit to the creator of the heavens and the earth? Do we really understand what it means when we bear the name of Christ? Are we truly identifying ourselves with the cross where Christ became the ransom for our sins? The truth of the Gospel is extreme. It is unreasonable and illogical to react to it in any other way. The reaction to the Gospel has to be extreme. Hearing its claims must move us to fall to our knees in complete submission. If we profess faith in the Gospel yet live in a way not far removed from the life that preceded the encounter with the Gospel, we have misunderstood that Gospel. If we profess faith in the God of the Bible and are yet convinced of our own power, or yet in control of the direction and course of our lives, we have misunderstood the Gospel. If we profess faith in the cross of Christ and continue to strive for perfection, to attain salvation through our personal record, we do not understand the Gospel.
The Gospel of Christ is extreme in its claims concerning the nature of the living God. This God does not need us for anything, nor does he have to listen to our opinions at all. However, he continues to use us, bless us, and listen to us because he loves us. The Gospel of Christ is extreme in its claims about the life and sacrifice of Christ. The message of the Cross does not give us new guidelines to improve our lives or free passes to find peace with the daily sins that plague us. The message of the Cross is that faith in the sacrifice of Jesus creates a being different from the old, that can never go back. There is always movement with the cross of Christ, but just as Christ carried his cross forward and never back, forward motion into deeper union with Christ is the only acceptable outcome of our faith. The Gospel is not just another idea, voice or message amongst the thousands of messages we receive on a daily basis. It is THE message. It is THE good news. To understand it for exactly what it claims requires us to broaden our scale of measurement to a point so big that at a certain point we disappear, and only Christ remains