A balanced solution
“Desiring to not offend, we have erred on the culturally correct, peaceful, gentle and accepting side.”
God Will Pick the Nut
I found myself shaking my head
I was attending a National AAPG convention in San Antonio. The year was 1989. You can only sit still listening to someone talk about doing research on rocks for so long, so one afternoon I gave up and went for a stroll downtown. I was walking past the Alamo and came up to a guy literally standing on, well, like’s call it a soap box, bible in his left hand, waving fiercely with his right, warning the crowd in a very direct way that unless they repented, they would spend eternity in hell. I reacted as I suppose most well-meaning Christians would have by quickly crossing the street, walking past the Alamo and the preacher, then crossing back to my original path. I found myself shaking my head over what had just occurred. My response? A casual prayer, almost an apology, for a crazy Christian who should know better.
Fast forward more than a quarter century. What do I make of this encounter now? Today, we have a church, a major part of us Evangelicals, let’s call ourselves Born Again Christians (clearly redundant). Actually, I prefer the phrase Orthodox Biblical Christians, emphasis on the word Biblical. We may collectively wince at the thought of being so straight forward. Certainly, I believe that an approach to bringing people to Christ that emphasizes the love, sacrificial and patient heart of our Lord, is a better method, but here is the problem. I often think, at least initially, in bookends, extreme cases that bracket the problem, knowing full well that many times it is a better solution to strike a balance, something of a combination of various aspects or elements of the extreme cases. Ok, I get it. But we have gone overboard. Desiring to not offend, we have erred on the culturally correct, peaceful, gentle and accepting side. In other words – thou shalt not judge. Apparently, our modern-day culture now defines love as the pursuit of a peaceful feeling. Gone are the days of Tough Love. Put another way, Jesus has become all Lamb and no Lion. We have lost the basic definition of what it means to be a Christian. Yes, self-sacrificing, turn the cheek, sure, get stepped on, who cares. But we must offer the truth no matter how it is received or how much it is shunned and out of favor. Universalism reins supreme but that is not God’s Way. His Way is through a narrow gate. If we think the Lord is being too restrictive, quite closed minded, we do not understand the radical uniqueness of Christ. He alone was and is the God-Man. Period the End, Full Stop.
Jesus has done everything for us, everything we could ever desire. If that doesn’t sound right (true) please immerse yourself in scripture and don’t come up for air until you understand the words spoken to you in the love letter we call the Bible.
Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? The San Antonio gentleman, ok, a bit direct with his non-negotiable warning, was at least getting to the bottom line, the truth. There are only two kinds of people in this world. Those taking a right turn at eternity’s door and those taking a left.
Do you know how many of our dear friends and relatives will be separated from God forever? See how I lightened up the reference? There is little doubt in my mind that if God looked down on San Antonio that day and saw the nut, then looked ahead and saw many of us in the church here in the US, there would be no contest. God would pick the nut.
It is time for us to move away from the grand acceptance of every ism (every wind of teaching) ever known, and move with certainty, toward the nut. No reason to be apologetic. Yes, loving, gentle, respectful, but direct. Let’s get serious. It is a narrow path and a matter of life and death.
“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect …” (1 Peter 3:15)