Monday, April 13, 2009

The Comforts and Commands of Christ

Calvary Baptist Church in Linesville, PA asked me to speak at their church for Easter.  I looked forward to that.  Then they asked me to speak in three services, each one with a different message.  I sorta looked forward to that.  Then they informed me that the first service began at 8:00 am.  With the hour and half drive to get to the church, I had to leave Butler by 6:15 am.  I did not look forward to that.  

In my study for the messages I noticed a trend after Christ’s resurrection.  Almost everything our Savior spoke falls into one of two categories.  His words either came as comfort or command.  

Jesus says things like, “Peace be unto you,” or “Everything’s going to be Ok.”

He calls Mary by name as if to say to her, “I know your hurt, your fear.  What concerns you concerns me.”

Jesus goes on to tell Mary, “I’m go to ascend to my Father.” We know that means He goes to rule and reign over all affairs from the glories of heaven.  We have nothing to fear as He controls all things.  

Yet Jesus also shares some commands in his final days on earth.  

He tells his disciples, “As the father sent me, so I send you.”  

He calls Peter to “Feed his sheep.”  

As many know Jesus finally tells his followers to take the message of the Scripture all throughout the world.  What a command!  Could there be a more difficult calling?  Even in that though, Jesus cushions that final command with comfort.  He says, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.”  

Comforts and commands.  

So many in Christianity want one or the other.  The comfort sure sounds nice.  We like the thought of a cushy, warm-hearted God who just loves us so much and wants to do for us everything He can.  We perceive him as a congenial grandfather-type who always smiles, hugs us a lot, and looks the other way when we do something He disapproves of.  On his worst day this God may toss our sin a stern look for a moment, then simply smile and ask us not to do that again.  

Others in Christianity prefer the command side.  We like the thought of a serious God who will only open the gates of heaven for a small select few.  Of course we and our close friends are a part of those blessed few.  And the rest of the world . . .  well, to bad . . . they should have tried a little harder.  We grin at the thought that all our wonderful, hard-fought obedience earned us the gratitude of a strict heavenly Father.  

Both views are wrong.  Both swing the pendulum to far.  God is loving.  God is also just.  God is heavenly father.  God is also a strong king.  Jesus gives comfort.  He also gives commands.  

Let’s seek to walk the narrow center of the Scripture and not stray far to the right or the left.  

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