Don’t blame church for this one. People love it when things are easy. Jamba Juice makes it so we don’t have to chew our fruit. Don’t like pedaling? Auto bicycles. How about those conveyors at the airport? Now you don’t have to walk down the long hallway before you sit in a comfy jet for a few hours.
The Bible can be incredibly encouraging, because there are endless promises laced throughout, the ultimate being eternal life for those who make Jesus their Savior. Those parts are easy to read, and they make us feel good. The Bible can also be a little bit confusing at times, simply because some people’s behavior is outright bizarre. But there are also several very hard passages in there, too inconvenient for our own liking.. We like to skip those. We also like to make them more comfortable so we don’t have to deal with him.
Well, I’m about to take away your couch. Here’s some hard floor to sit on.
God wants you to pray for justice. (18:1-8)
Jesus says, “Pray for your enemies.” However, He actually permits us to pray against evil as well. If something in your life is sucking, we’re supposed to pray for it to stop. I’m not talking about praying the server for Call of Duty goes back up before dinner, or similar frivolous things we love praying for. Jesus is specifically referring to revenge. But it’s not your job to dish it out. It’s God’s. I’m pretty sure He’d do a better job handling it anyway.
God favors His own people, and it’s at the expense of those who don’t know Him. (18:1-8)
Jesus says He’ll avenge His own elect. That means there are also people that are not His “elect”. This is very inconvenient for people that like to believe they’re saved and going to heaven that haven’t decided to call Jesus the Lord of their lives, because now they’re on the outside looking in. And if they’re harassing an “elect”, they’re subject to punishment from God. If you ask me, I’ll take the safer route.
God loves faithful people, but they’re hard to come by (18:8).
Jesus suggests that He might have difficulty finding “faith on the earth” when He comes back. This could mean two things:
– He’s lighting a fire under our butts.
– There really won’t be very many faithful people on the earth when He comes back.
I like the first one. It means the church will still be intact, and people will still be earnestly pursuing righteousness. I don’t think anyone would like the second scenario to be the case, with the exception of atheists and the IRS until it comes to fruition. Who wants to be a flake? Not me. So, don’t be a flake.
God wants you to be heartbroken. (18:9-14)
“Praise and worship time” at church is usually fun. It’s led by the better musicians in the church, which means the music is usually pretty good. Everyone is singing along and having a good time. In some cases there’s an awesome multimedia presentation going on, and you find yourself hoping it’s a “praise and worship service” and that the pastor has a day off so you can continue in this concert-like experience.
Please, please, don’t misunderstand me. Worship time is great. There is no better joy than to sing out loud with unbelievers the endless praises of our Lord. But if “praise and worship time” does not break your heart, you’re missing the point. Or, unfortunately, your church is missing the point.
God can use humble people. He needs humble people to do His work, because they’re the kind of people that others actually trust. No one likes to hear proud people.
God has an exclusive club of child-like people (18:15-17).
Dependent, selfish, undisciplined, dirty, noisy, weak, poor, naive, easily amused, energetic, hungry, and constantly learning. We all came to Jesus like this. Of course, God demands that we grow up, eventually, but why do we have such a hard time with people like this that haven’t come to Jesus yet? It’ll happen — let them come. Unfortunately, it’s the ones that can’t put away their pride that will be left outside the club.
Why do I have to do this? Why do I present these grating discourses? Because I want you to know the truth of what the Bible says. I want Christians to start reading the Bible critically rather than just glossing over the texts and bobble-heading in a lukewarm church. I want people to understand that love is hard, but incredibly rewarding. The beauty of eternal life and the knowledge of a really, really huge God making a way for us to get there far outweighs the challenges that shape us while we’re still here.