October 26, 2010

Gentleness and Truth

When I talk to people about Jesus, I have done very well in being gentle and kind as we are commanded to be in several of Paul's lists: Galatians 5:22, Philipians 4:5, Colosians 3:12... the list of lists is long.

On the other hand, I have been aware for some time that the message of the Word in its wholeness is often offensive to people. It tells them that they are sinful, that God hates sin, and that they should humble themselves to admit that they are not at all the good people they imagine themselves to be and let God guide their steps.

Humility AND submission? That sucks.

Most people who only follow half the words (if any) of their respective holy books or whom live by a code of what's socially acceptable will tell you that they are "good people" because they don't kill anyone, say hateful things to people on a regular basis, and they recycle plastic bottles. Sometimes. A new standard that throws their hopes and dreams of creating their own goodness is much too large a pill to swallow, quite often.

These thoughts met, joined hands, and boiled down to the level of clarity when I heard a sermon in my hometown several Sundays ago. The pastor talked about Saul/Paul's early ministry, and one of the things he talked about was how Paul was ran out of several towns by people who wanted to kill him (Acts 9:9-25, 28-30). It should be noted that Paul "debated the Grecian Jews" in Jerusalem and "baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ." He was "speaking boldly in the name of the Lord."

While I don't believe that if you're not receiving death threats you're not doing it right (Acts 9:31), there is something to be said for his boldness with the Word. We're called to take the Word to people, and it can be harsh; granted, it is all ultimately in a context of God's love for us, but that's not often the part that first stands out to people when you share the entirety of the Gospel.

All this to say:

By all means, be gentle and respectful. And by all means, present the full Gospel without omitting the tough stuff. And please, be bold. Those of us who don't preach hate or cheap grace can certainly increase it that area.

The sermon I referenced was preached by Pastor John Kuvakas at Warrenton Bible Fellowship on October 10th, 2010, and can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the plug, Zach. You have it right; BOLDNESS with all the love and respect we can muster up, leaving the results to the Holy Spirit. That was Paul's strategy and, while most of us in the West will not suffer the way he did, we would do good to remember that there are areas where people are literally risking their lives to share the Gospel.