You’ve been given a great and fearful job by Almighty God. As I sit before you week after week, I hunger for spiritual meat. I can no longer stand a cotton candy diet. Teach me the deep things of God. I want the truth about myself: I am a sinner and all of my “good-deeds” are but filthy rags before the Lord. My efforts are nothing and will never be enough to take me to heaven. I need you to explain what you have spent so long studying. Tell me how to please Him, how to obey Him, how to honor Him. I don’t want to hear a single word about how to secure a good life. If I need motivating, I will turn to my husband.
Stop talking to me about God’s love exclusively. I know He loves me. Jesus’ death on the cross proves that. I need to know that He is holy and a consuming fire. I need to know that He demands holiness from His followers. To explain only His love is to make Him sound like Santa Claus. He isn’t. He is amazingly powerful and all-together beautiful God Who sacrificed His only Son for me! Tell me that. Tell me what I must now do to honor that sacrifice. Don’t be afraid to step on toes–Jesus never was afraid to do so. As loving and kind as He was, Jesus was also very confrontational when the need arose. He never once told someone that they needed to think more of themselves or strive to be happier. He told them that they were sinners who were defiling God’s laws. When He saw faith, He commended it and He gave His followers everything that they needed in order to grow spiritually; however, when He saw disbelief, He wasn’t ever shy about saying so.
Many in the church live in practical disbelief. We say we are followers of Christ, but we act as if we are living for ourselves. For the true follower of Christ, life will not be easy. We must die daily. We must take up our cross daily. We must die to self, to sin and to the world. The world, Jesus said, will hate us. Have you taught me how to live so that I will be hated? Have you taught me to obey God even when it hurts me? Have you taught me that His holiness is His first attribute and the one through which all of His other attributes must be seen and understood? Don’t comfort me or pretend that everything is okay. It isn’t okay. People are dying everyday without Jesus. That’s true in the world, of course, but it’s also true in the church. Too many of our churches have become nothing more than a social club pandering to the lifestyle of comfort and ease that we Americans seem to expect. People are sitting in your pews every Sunday who believe with all of their heart that they have been saved and that they have a “ticket” to heaven. After all, they said a prayer or they accepted Jesus into their hearts. You told them that was what they had to do. Did you also tell them that it had to be accompanied by repentance? Did you tell them that Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey Him? Did you tell them that followers of the Way will be hated and persecuted and that if life isn’t harder for them in someway? That if someone doesn’t hate them for who they are and what they represent–it may mean that there isn’t enough of a difference between them and the world to measure so no one feels threatened by them? If we aren’t reminding folks of Jesus, can it be said that we truly belong to Him?
Don’t be afraid to teach that we must separate from the world, that we will have different motivations when we belong to God. Don’t be afraid to tell us ladies that we must return to dressing modestly if we are going to please God. Tell us what we are doing to our brothers in Christ when we show up at church in halter tops and mini-skirts. Tell us what it does to our witness when we go out into the world dressed in a way that draws attention to our bodies rather than our character. Teach us the boldness that it takes to stand alone for and with God. Teach me how to obey God out of a heart of love rather than by following a legalist formula. Teach me that claiming “Christian liberty” and talking about God’s grace doesn’t mean that I have a right to live anyway I want to. “Shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid.” That was Paul’s answer. It is still the answer today.
If we are not here to obey God, why are we here? Tell me, please. Remind me that we are here to obey God and grow in Christ-likeness, to edify the believers and to reach the lost. Help me to remember that amid the rush of my daily life. Help me to have my priorities straight so that I might be pleasing to Jesus in all that I do. Teach me to focus on heaven so that my life here on earth might make sense. Help me to know that I am made for another, better World. Help me to love God enough to want to live and die for Him. Tell me the truth about hell: a place prepared for the devil and his followers also awaits those who do not bow before an Almighty and Holy God in repentance and obedience. Help me to live in such a way that I might be prepared for heaven and may never hear those awful words, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Preacher, you’ve been called by God to preach His Word. Now is the time to start really doing just that. As you do so, my everlasting thankfulness and my prayers will go with you.
God bless you,
Soli Deo Gloria
The Cross Is All at http://annawood.wordpress.com