|Rambling Thoughts About Preaching the Love of Jesus|
|Ramblings - Preaching the Love of Jesus
I read something recently about how important it was to tell and show people that Jesus loved them. I know this is the most important thing the church can tell the world. Sadly, in the South where I live, people know much more about what the church is against than what we are for. Could that be because we have preached the law to them instead of grace? For several days I had some rambling thoughts about this and remembered some related experiences from the past. Once I sat in a meeting with a very successful pastor of a rather large church. He told us something about preaching the love of Jesus above all else. He said, "I used to preach hell because I did not want people to go there. I could dangle people above hell ‘til their clothes smelled like smoke. When I gave the invitation they would hold on to the pews until their knuckles turned white. Now I preach the love of Jesus and they can’t wait until I give the invitation to come down and give their lives to Jesus." As I thought about him, I remembered an experience from several years ago. It was a different experience and although that pastor was not preaching that night, he was present there that night. Here is the experience.
Many years ago a friend and I went to a tent revival in the parking lot of a Baptist church late in the summer. It was probably fifteen or twenty miles from where we lived. We had heard that the man preaching that week had just recently been saved from a life of drugs and other evils. He was said to be really good. Several churches were participating in the services that week under a large tent. I felt uncomfortable early in the service and I could not put my finger on exactly why. A few minutes into the message the preacher asked how many people there had led someone to the Lord that year. He asked for a show of hands. Only two hands went up. He was mortified. He asked if those who had lifted their hands went to church there. No was the answer. After inquiring as to where those attended church and finding out that both were Methodist, he was beyond mortified. He began to assault those pitiful excuses for servants of the Lord that went to church there. He was from the wake’em-up-shake’em-up-beat’em-up-God’s-mad-at-you school of preaching. Railing against any and every sin, real or imagined, and continually reminding us how back-slidden, selfish and cold-of-heart we were. He accused and scolded us, then shoved our tattered souls up against the memories of the past for comparison: the great revivals that happened in another place, another time, the things God used to do, the great prayer warriors that used to be around, the way it was when we first found the Lord. Whatever we once were we had strayed far from it. Shame on us! "Shame on you! Am I the only one that cares? Am I the only one that loves the Lord?"
Just to be honest with you, I wondered if he were really saved. His preaching was coming straight off of Mount Sinai. It was law. That night he sure did not get very far from the law. There was one thing for sure that I knew and that thing was he did not know the same Jesus I knew. A Jesus full of truth and grace. Truth without grace is law and grace without truth is license. You must have grace and truth. After the service that night was finally over and my friend and I were driving home he asked me if I was going to come back the next night. I told him no and that I thought we were lucky to get out of that place alive. We had raised our hands. It sure was not a place for a couple of Charismatic Methodist to be.
I can not help but think of the successful churches and preachers that are telling people that God cares about their everyday lives. Telling them that he cares about the problems and troubles they have. Our lives do not always run smoothly like we would like for them to. Whether our problems are big or small, whether they are easily solved or unsolvable and whether they will take care of themselves or require much from us we need to be told that God cares about the problems. Some preachers seem to think that everybody under the sound of their voice does not really have any big problems, that they just need to try harder and to do more. They need to be more serious about "church" and that would do it. I listen to other preachers who are saying we all have struggles and God cares. Then they are telling folks what they need to do to get closer to God and to seek him for guidance and answers to their struggles. These are the messengers of God that are reaching the multitudes with the love of Jesus and bringing multitudes into the Kingdom of God. Our commission from our savior is to make disciples not just converts. When a church and a preacher figure out how to make disciples, then those disciples will reap a harvest of souls. They will truly realize exactly what the abundant life Jesus spoke of in John 10:10 is. It is the life of a disciple of Jesus.
This is what I thought about. What do you think?
Serving the King,
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