“You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?””
This to me, is what Bonhoeffer was talking about when he spoke of “Cheap grace”. Some pastors, by going around and teaching that “Jesus loves you!” are demonstrating this passage clearly by telling folks that God offers you salvation with no conditions.
This is wrong, to my way of thinking, at least in my understanding of the gospel. The gift of salvation is “Free”, absolutely, but what is required on our part is repentance, or surrender I tell people. You must surrender, your will for his, your kingdom for his, your agenda for the Lord’s. Repentance means literally “Change your mind”. But I tell folks that we often translate it as “Turning from sin” which means fully turning from man’s kingdom, or anything human-centered, towards a God-centered way of thinking. Of course, none of us do that perfectly, but it’s the goal.
Christians are often held up to the world as weak, or in need of a “Crutch” in order to deal with the world. Nothing could be further from the truth! While most of us have come to the end of ourselves and found God there, what we found when we turned to him was unconditional love and acceptance for us – right where we were! Again, in many cases that was at the lowest point in our lives (which is why we were willing to look up to begin with) but what we gained wasn’t just of earthly value to us, it was our eternal salvation that makes all the difference in the world!
There was another Hollywood suicide yesterday, a young woman named Stevie Ryan. While this is tragic, it points out the reality that there is nothing in this world to answer the most basic questions of life that we all must answer at some point! Those questions are covered in our basic “Discovering Hope” course that Pastor Zac teaches a couple times a year, and they are essential for us all to answer.
1. Who am I?
2. Where did I come from / where am I going?
3. Why am I here?
4. Is there meaning to history (what’s happened before I got here, does it mean anything)?
The answers to those questions, without God, are all pretty much “No purpose, no meaning, I am an accident”. But WITH God, all those questions are answered with amazing meaning and purpose! I am a child of God, created in his image, to have relationship with him and my fellow human beings; further, history teaches that it is no accident that I am here, and there has been a struggle since the beginning of good against evil, after God allowed Satan to tempt and corrupt Adam and Eve.
At some point, I tell folks, it doesn’t matter whether you believe in the literal Adam and Eve in the Bible (I do), or whether you believe it’s an allegorical tale, the end result is the same: Man was tempted and found to be corrupt, therefore God cursed him and the creation. Creation, and humans, have been winding down ever since, things are getting worse, and history is coming to its conclusion. At least history on this earth!
So, the only real question I have for you, on this 4th of July, 2017, is this: What are you gonna do with Jesus? Is he God (he said clearly that he is)? Or merely a man, a “Good” teacher? Let me remind you what C.S. Lewis said: “You can shut [Jesus] up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”