I’ve been guilty of trying to “soften” some of the truths in Scripture so that they sound more acceptable to whomever I am speaking (or to myself!) Lord, have mercy! It can be tempting in our western, post-modern, culture (where tolerance is the sacred cow) to want to try to accommodate everyone so that no one walks away offended, but sometimes, that’s the point.
Jesus offended a lot of people. He was not afraid to offend people. He cared more about people than He did about people liking Him. He loved people enough to give it to them straight. Always with total love and acceptance of the person, but always with utmost sincerity. He did not mince His words.
Recently, I’ve been convicted of this again as I launched a new project that I’ve been working on. I’ve been uploading daily, 2-minute videos on YouTube and Facebook for children that follow the text in The One Year Bible for Children. And some of these Bible stories are uncomfortable. I’ve wondered if maybe I should tone it down a little. I mean, after all, they are only children.
Maybe I should be a little more “sensitive” or try to be a little “wiser” with my words than…say…um…the Creator of the Universe? Lord, have mercy again. I think the most intelligent, most compassionate Being in the universe would know how to get His point across in the best way possible.
So despite my discomfort (because I obviously still do care more about myself and how I am perceived than actually loving other people), I’ve posted the children’s videos just as they are, full Biblical text written in an age-appropriate way. And you can’t miss the point that Jesus is trying to make in some of these passages. The Wide and Narrow Road– some will get into Heaven, but most will not. The Rich Man and Lazarus– the rich man did not care about the things that God cares about while he was on earth, so after he died, he was not in Heaven whilst Lazarus, the poor man, did get to enter into Paradise. And the rich young man whom Jesus will not bend the rules for.
Should our kids hear these stories? Absolutely. These stories hold their path to freedom and a life that will give them the utmost purpose.
Research shows that somewhere between 60-80% of all responses to the Gospel come from children under 12 years of age (Bible League Canada). And it’s not just the children who need to hear. We all do.
Going to church will not make us good people. Writing a check for the offering plate will not get us into Heaven. God is clear. Jesus is the way. If there were any amount of good things that we could do to clean our slate and guarantee us a pass, do you think the Father would have sent His only Son to be crucified? There is no other way. He is it.
Jesus was not telling those parables with the intent of offending people. Some were offended (usually just the people who already thought they were good enough or those that didn’t want to repent), but that was not the point. And Jesus was not sharing candidly about the road to Heaven because He wanted to exclude some from entering in. Quite the opposite. Jesus was trying to warn people that unless they took a good look at their lives, turned away from their selfish lifestyles and to Him, they would not be with Him for eternity. No one gets a “Free Pass” to Heaven. We are all guilty. Not one of us has hit God’s standard of selfless perfection. Everyone of us, at some point, has tried to take control of our own lives and blocked our ears from what we knew to be right.
So that’s why I’ve chosen to let Scripture speak for Itself. We need the ancient, foundational truth that Its pages hold. God knows we need it more now than ever. This Truth will set us free. This Truth will loose us from being chained to our-selves. This Truth will connect us with a Father who has loved us since the beginning of time. I can’t think of any message that’s more loving to share with someone.
Sometimes it has to get messier before it can get clean. The Gospel, Jesus, is not afraid of our mess. He knows that we have to face it, decide to turn away from it, and run to Him before we can truly know what real life is.
That is why He did not fail to bring the hard line to the rich young man who had kept the rules his whole life but would not give up all his wealth to follow Jesus. Jesus knew that this young man’s money had become his noose. He wanted him to be free, but the young man turned sadly turned away.
Jesus did not back down from telling the uncomfortable parables to people. He did not try to adjust the standard so that the multitudes would feel better about themselves. He shared reality as it truly is and allowed people to choose which way they would like to walk, hoping that they would choose His but releasing enough to not demand it.
God wants us to know before it’s too late that His priorities are not necessarily our priorities. You can spend your whole life trying to gain the world and end up losing your soul.
Every person who truly wants to be with God, who is willing to humble herself and accept God’s leadership in her life, will be with Him in this life and in the life to come. Every person who wants to do things her own way, refuses to listen to God’s wisdom, and denies what she knows to be right, has already made her choice here on earth. Eternity will merely be a continuation of one's own desires on earth: intimacy or separation from… Click To Tweet
I don’t write this lightly. God does NOT want anyone to be separated from Him, not now and definitely not for an eternity. He does not delight in the death of those that don’t know Him (Ezekiel 18:23). And He did not intend for any of His people to be separated from Him for an eternity (Matthew 25:41). But Love demands that there is free-will. God will not force anyone to be in a relationship with Him. He allows people to make their own decisions. And He is truly grieved when people turn away.
It’s not a matter of always doing the right thing and never messing up. It’s a matter of recognizing that we are soiled. We have all sinned. It’s a matter of seeking reconciliation with God by means of Jesus, who gave Himself as a sacrifice in our place so that we would not have to receive the punishment that we deserve. It’s receiving the new life that Jesus offers and accepting the truth that we are changed into new creations. It’s walking with His Spirit inside of us, to give us comfort and power and freedom. It’s living the rest of our days for Him.
So that is why I aspire to let God speak for Himself. He’s the wisest, most compassionate, most timely Being in the Universe. I think that He can handle Himself!
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