Jesus was no people pleaser. He wasn’t predictable or palatable or pandering or polite. Yet, He consistently and completely carried out His mission to bring ultimate glory to His Father. Sometimes He did that through speaking. Sometimes by remaining quiet. Sometimes He delivered harsh truths to people. Yes, He taught people their worth. But, He also taught us how far we are from the holiness of the One True God.
He was born the Prince of Peace, yet He also said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36) He delivers peace to His true followers. Peace is found in His perfection and will be a marker of the new Heaven and new Earth that He will one day establish. But, He warns us very clearly that there is no peace between those who follow Him and those who don’t. This has always been true, but we are seeing this come alive in full color in our times. Those who don’t believe in Christ hold believers in contempt. They find our ways unbearable. They find our beliefs intolerable.
And, this is difficult for us to take. We don’t want to be hated. We don’t want to seem unenlightened or out of touch. So, many of us have tried to find ways to manufacture peace.
We’ve seen it in the leaders who have tried to sweep Hell and sin under a rug of soft-spoken reassurances. We’ve seen it in a whole faction of the church that has raised the banner of Love One Another, covering their eyes and ears with the sturdy fabric of their loud refrain: Judge not. Judge not. Judge not.
In their desperation to create peace where there is none, they elevated mankind to the highest possible place. Feelings and personal truth began to trump spiritual needs and actual Truth. And, then they walked up to the line that separates those who believe and those who don’t, and they stepped over it. They looked back at the Body of Christ, and, linking arms with the world, they said, “These are my people now.” And there they stand, pretending that this is real peace. “This is how to love people,” they shout across the line, while the Body of Christ continues tirelessly caring for orphans and widows, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission, and clinging unswervingly to the perfect Truth of God’s word.
These leaders claim that loving people is the number one priority of the Christian faith. But, they’re wrong. The top priority of this faith is to love God. Jesus cleared this up when He was asked which was the greatest commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37) Then He goes on to say that the second greatest is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs. 39).
He even told the crowds who were following Him that we shouldn’t love ANYONE more than we love Him. No human being should be prioritized above Christ: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26) Then He throws in this truth: “And whoever does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (vs. 27) Why? Because Christianity is hard. It’s a call to forsake everything and everyone for the sake of Christ. It’s a call to remain in your position in the Body of Christ, even when it’s an all-out war against you. It’s a call to love God first, resisting the urge to set human beings up as idols on high pedestals, untouchable by the gospel because we keep insisting that people are good and the church is harsh and Jesus would just hug everyone and tell them they’re doing a great job.
Loving people isn’t the ultimate goal of Christianity. Jesus didn’t come to this earth to love people. He came here to bring glory to His Father. Missionaries don’t span this giant globe, putting themselves in danger, separating themselves from family, struggling to have a few comforts of home because they are called to love people. They do it because they are called to bring glory to Christ, and He deserves the worship of everyone in this world. So, they spread the gospel. They teach the truth that sin is deadly and brings destruction. They teach that Jesus is real and that He is the Prince of Peace. Yet, in many places all over the world, when true believers accept Christ and become infused with His peace, they are all but declaring war in their own families. Jesus said it would happen. And, it does. Every day. The gospel is offensive and invading. It doesn’t bring the world together. It separates believers from unbelievers. God’s people are set apart. The Body of Christ is one. But, the rest of the world is at enmity with God.
You see, we can’t step over the line that divides the Body of Christ and this big, lost world as if we are the great middle class saviors of America, trying to create some man-made version of peace in our fellow human beings. Peace comes through faith in Christ alone. And, faith in Christ comes through the whole gospel. The love of God compels us to call out to humanity, “Jesus saves,” but the world won’t hear the truth if we elevate people above Christ. If we preach the false gospel that their feelings are all that matters. That Jesus would never say harsh things to them or that whatever they choose as their own truth is okay with God. Love people, yes. But, first love God with all your heart, soul, mind. Believe His word. Stop trying to edit Him so that He’ll seem more acceptable. And, watch His spirit change the unchangeable. There is no substitute for the real, soul deep peace that He brings, even while wars rage all around.
This is the first time I have ever disagreed with a word you have written. And it’s little things in the overall picture. I’d love to discuss. Kellycrowson@gmail.com
Thanks for your comment, Kelly! Emailing you.
I was originally attracted to your blog because of the title and the premise on which it was founded. Leaving little bread crumbs of thoughts behinds for yours kids to one day find and pick up on their path through life, I have continued to follow because you write so well. Very fluid, honest and heart-felt heart-warming. But every so often ( actually quite often) you share a great truth, (like today) and it makes me ponder and examine my life and my world.
Thank- You !
John, thank you so much for this encouragement!
This was excellent!
Thank you, Granna!
I just became aware of your blog when your last post was linked in another blog. What you wrote about praying with your husband reminded me of the words of Leonard Allen at the Pepperdine University lectures in 1994. He humbled himself to confess that he had for many years refused to pray with his wife Holly. His words silenced about 4,000 people in the fieldhouse. At that time they had enjoyed the blessing of praying together for 19 months.
What you have written above about love for God moving us to tell others truths they don’t want to hear – is one of the most faithful messages I have ever heard. I have failed to live it out many times in different ways. Jesus has been obscured by so many who preach and teach. You are not the only sister who has spoken with more courage than many men. If we could help people see Jesus in their mind, they could believe that he can change them too. Jesus has the power to change us again and again.
If you are not aware of Edward Fudge, you will be blessed by his website, Edwardfudge.com.
His gracEmail ministry has blessed thousands for over 20 years, and his 1982 book, The Fire That Consumes, has helped many recover the understanding that Hell will consume all who will be cast into it. The misunderstanding that Hell is unending torture has kept some from trusting in Jesus for eternal life.
May all of your writing ring with the clarity and courage you have shared today.
Wayne McDaniel Phx. Isaiah 57:15
Wayne, thank you so much for these encouraging words!
This is on point. Well said and incredibly needed.
Thank you. I’ve lost sleep over this, basically thunderstruck by the past month’s revelations from some leaders. I’ve felt naive for trusting they would hold fast to the word. Astounded by their arrogance. Saddened by their decision. Their declarations are no small matter. We aren’t disagreeing over the color of church carpet. Your visual of them looking back at the body of Christ, linking arms with the world – it’s achingly accurate. Thank you for speaking truth. I’ve already had to have hard conversations with a lifelong friend over this. It’s not going to get easier, we know that from scripture. But He must remain our primary affection, he deserves nothing less than our steadfast loyalty.
My favorite bible story is Jesus rearranging the money changers furniture for them in the temple. I believe that is called “righteous zeal.” Great blog Melissa.
This was well spoken and grace-filled. Thank you for this steady reminder that Jesus came to this earth to glorify His Father. We are not the ultimate purpose of His gospel. I am growing in this understanding and am seeing that I cannot even love others ‘rightly’ unless I love Jesus Christ ‘firstly’, as He defines love. (If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:14)
Oh for grace to love Him more!
I am reading your blogs in the middle of the night and came across this one. It was confirming to me that the natural peacemaker in me was rocked by God last night to stand up for Him on FB was after much silence lead to do so by the Spirit of Jesus. This nation was founded by Christian people and I’m tired of the rhetoric and passive aggressive “tolerance” of everyone and everything. And so I responded to a post firmly but gently suggesting that if people do not want to live in a Christian country they still have freedom to go live and practice their faith where they feel they can do it better. I want to embrace that I follow Jesus openly and I accept what He ordains in life period. That could be President elect Trump or Obama. I want to say Merry Christmas and if you don’t celebrate the birth of my Jesus I will not hate you but I do not have to celebrate other false Gods with you. I always ask if people I do not know celebrate Christmas and if they say no I do not say anything except God bless you. I mean that. But I will not water down my belief in “The only Way, Truth and Life,” in favor of other gods. I will choose to love, yet not tolerate digs at my Jesus.
God bless and I loved the posts I’ve read. Merry Christmas
Amen! My prayer for myself is that I will not twist His words to fit my wants. Such a temptation.