The Offensive Gospel

Jesus-Sanhedrin

June 30 (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)

Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.  To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume.  (NLT)

Ask someone who has been part of a drug intervention.  It is usually not well received at first by the person who needs it.  For that matter, consider a child’s reaction when her parents say it is bedtime or try to apply antiseptic to a knee scrape.  That which is good and true, that which brings healing and restoration and life often meets with profound resistance, and the same is true when it comes to sharing the gospel of Jesus.

If things seem to be going well enough without God, do you really want to be told that appearances can be deceiving and that you need Him desperately?  If your idea of God is comfortable, based on ideas cobbled together over a period of years, do you really want to confront His fullness and reality in a first century Jew named Jesus?  If truth about God’s love requires a change in your life because He knows better than you what is best, do you really want to hear that?

We all struggle with listening to and accepting what God says to us.  Some people have learned to put aside their preconceived notions in order to approach Him with a truly humble and receiving heart, but others have not, and you and I do not know who is who.  It is our calling, just as it was Paul’s, to live lives that are a sweet fragrance to God, lives that will draw some toward Him and seem to drive others away.  If what you say and do helps someone live in deeper relationship with God, then rejoice, for you have done well.  If it makes others angry or causes the loss of friendships, by all means grieve, but do not change.  You live to please God, not human beings, and you never know whether those people may one day come back to Him because of what they have experienced in you.

Jesus, You never once cared what others thought when it came to fulfilling Your calling.  I want to be as strong as You.  Give me the courage to live a life that is pleasing to You and one that can point others toward You.  May I never back down from being Your servant, no matter how people react.  Amen.

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Talking About Jesus

People_talking

March 24 (2 Corinthians 4:13)

I believed, and so I spoke.  (ESV)

In 1983 Billy Joel released his album An Innocent Man, which contained the #1 hit “Tell Her About It.”  In one of the lines from that song, he sings, “Tell her about it.  Tell her everything you feel.  Give her every reason to accept that you’re for real.”  Stay with me here, for there is something about our relationship with God that requires being told.

There are lots of nice people in the world, many of whom are not Christians.  Simply doing kind things does not let anyone know about your relationship with God or who He really is.  We must tell people about Him if they are going to believe for even one moment that we are for real when we say we follow Him.  This does not mean dropping the name of Jesus every third word in a conversation, but it does mean sharing what you and He have done together, what He has done for you, and what you have learned about Him.  After all, don’t you share those very things about family, friends, and your favorite sports and entertainment figures?

We must also tell people about our relationship with Jesus if we want Him to believe for one moment that we are for real when we say we follow Him.  Can you imagine introducing your spouse to a friend only to have that person reply, “I didn’t even know you were married!”  If that ever happened, you’d be sleeping on the couch that night.

Paul quotes these words from Psalm 116:10 to remind us that action is the natural, logical consequence of our belief.  In fact, we could turn his words around.  If we do not talk about Jesus, do we really believe in Him?

Lord, the enemy would have me keep my relationship with you a deep, dark secret.  Instead, I will pray with David, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”  Amen.