However, the verse that most struck me and has stayed with me is how, the Lord had promised to keep the lamp of David’s kingdom burning brightly. Amid human failure, was still divine faithfulness! Among a people who had lost their way was a promise that not all was lost. Towards a nation living beneath their calling, was a word of eternal hope.
One of the things contemporary cultural Christianity rejects or tries to ignore, downplay, explain away, or not honestly wrestle with is the fierce and wild judgment of God found throughout Scripture. Not only do we reject or ignore it, but we seem embarrassed by it. Because of that, we overemphasize God’s love to the exclusion of talking about his judgment and justice. In this article, however, I want to address the reality of judgment and speak directly to it. I want to make the case that God’s fierce judgment is a significant part of and evidence of his passionate love. Further, I want to make the case that the reality of God’s judgment is something the American church needs to hear and reflect upon more deeply.
I believe what I am about to articulate addresses, perhaps, the single greatest crisis at the core of our current cultural issues. Let me state these two truths and then expand on them a little further: The greatest current cultural, political, religious, societal, personal, family, organizational, leadership, ministry, social media crisis at present is a crisis of emotional intelligence. We are allowing our emotions to control us, divide us, and destroy us in many unhealthy ways. Secondly, I have come to realize that my most significant and personal regrets, failures, and mistakes in life, leadership, ministry, and relationships revolve around a lack of emotional intelligence, not so much spiritual depth or technical skill. The same is probably true for you too when you think about it!
We live in a culture and age (even among professing and church-going Christians), where much like the book of Judges, people are doing what is right in their own eyes, according to their own standards, feelings and desires. There is a loss of respect for God, awe of God and reverence for God that leads to a real relationship with God. There is a lack of engagement in taking Scripture seriously, let alone even reading it anymore. There isn’t a sense of daily seeking the Lord first in our lives as more important than anything else and living in light of eternity. There is a nonchalant attitude towards giving, missions and praying. There is a lack of trembling at his word, being aware of his presence, and being convicted of our sin. There is barely any talk even of hell or the judgment to come from many pulpits.
This is what I am seeing I often miss about the cross. I like knowing I am forgiven, but am I too willing to forgive? I like knowing that despite being unworthy, Christ shows me undeserved grace; but am I willing to extend that grace to those in my life not “worthy” of it? I like knowing there is mercy for my sin; but am I willing to show mercy when others sin against me? I find it moving to know the length to which Christ went that I might have peace with him, but what length am I willing to go to to work towards peace with others?
However, did you know this is not the last time the phrase “It is Finished” is used? While the sacrifice for sin to make possible our salvation, redemption, forgiveness and reconciliation with God was finished; the reality is there are many still living apart from God, evil still is at work in the world and heaven has not come to earth. There are more things “yet to be done.”
The other day, I experienced my first time in a courtroom. I waited to stand before a judge and receive my “sentence.” Like many other poor souls, I got pulled over for speeding in the state of Virginia. In Virginia, there is a law that if you are going 20 miles or more over the speed limit, you don’t just get a normal speeding ticket; it is considered reckless driving, which is a criminal offense!
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then byContinue reading “The Grace of Giving”