Paradox Mine

I live a paradox. I have an irresistible compulsion to speak the truth of God’s word and nothing else gives me greater fulfillment in the depths of my soul, however nothing else causes me greater distress and social chastisement. Believe me when I tell you that I have no grand delusions of self-righteousness, I am acutely aware of my own sinfulness and shortcomings. However, sometimes the narrow path of truth can be lonely. When you preach grace you fill a church, but when you start preaching righteousness people lose their minds. I’ve estranged family members and lost friends because of my relentless pursuit of God and His call upon my life. I have counted the cost to follow and serve God, He will always be first in my life, regardless of the consequences, because that is the kind of radical devotion Jesus actually demands from all of those who call upon His name as Savior and Lord.

A few weeks ago during a conversation with the interim pastor for our church, he said, “I preach sin and hell.”  Like, he wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t be surprised by such a thing.  I can honestly say that the only thing that bothered me by his statement was that he felt it was necessary to make us aware that he preached the full counsel of God. I felt great compassion for him because I wondered, was there a time somewhere along his tenure as a pastor that he was given grief for his dedication to the full Gospel of Christ? His question only made me love him more because that is something that I can totally identify with. His question only made me even more thankful that it was him who God has sent to pastor our church during this time of our loss.

When we claim Jesus Christ as our Savior, what do we think He is saving us from? Jesus didn’t die to forgive us for our sin, He died to save us from it. Scripture tells us, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12). How many of us are being persecuted for our desire to live Godly lives in obedience to scripture? The stark reality of Western Christianity is that most of the persecution comes from those within our own faith.

As I pondered these things in my heart today, as I wrestled with God– on the one hand, compelled by His Spirit to preach righteousness; on the other hand, compelled by my flesh and my own reasoning to make my case for compromise– I felt Him lay on my heart: “You need to be preaching righteousness like I’m coming back tomorrow.”

Indeed. We should all be preaching righteousness in eager anticipation to stand before the great and terrible judge.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. Therefore, since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is clear to God, and I hope it is clear to your conscience as well.” (2 Cor 5:10,11)

“Therefore, since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us be filled with gratitude, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:28,29)

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:36)

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and encourage with every form of patient instruction. For the time will come when men will not tolerate sound doctrine, but with itching ears they will gather around themselves teachers to suit their own desires.” (1 Tim 4:1-3)

“Then I saw heaven standing open, and there before me was a white horse. And its rider is called Faithful and True. With righteousness He judges and wages war. He has eyes like blazing fire, and many royal crowns on His head… He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God… And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, the Almighty.” (Rev 19:11-15)