Well 2012 has started with a bang, I feel as f I hit the ground galloping. So much to look forward to this year, great promises, great adventures and great victories following great challenges.
My son started school the other week and it was such a great occasion to see him begin a journey that will play such a massive role in forming who he will become. No matter how much my wife or I want to remember him as this tiny little ball of cuddles, the truth is, we grow, we learn, we love, we conquer, we suffer and one day we will meet our creator.
The year started off with someone quite close to me passing away. It was very sudden and caught everyone off guard and my family now needs to pick up the pieces and learn to do life again without him in it.
We had the memorial service last monday which was a great time of honouring and remembering what a truly wonderful man he was, not perfect, but full of warmth, uncluttered simplicity and honesty that is hard to come by nowadays. Our pastor led the memorial and I sat there very emotional because of the loss I felt but also because of the pain my family was going through. The message that came across was one of celebration and peace because we know where he is now. But I couldn’t help but wonder, when the pastor is talking about, heaven, salvation and meeting your creator, what do people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus think. Are they sitting there just listening to what they think is merely the funeral script, or do they take a moment and ask themselves some questions. Where am I going, who is this creator, do I need to know him and how will the script differ at my funeral if I am not saved.
Lets put it down in black and white, I hate funerals, but I do think they are a great place to take stock, to weigh up where you are, to take a step back and get a bit of perspective.
I was looking at you tube yesterday and saw an interview with a prominent Christian pastor in the states. I didn’t watch the whole interview but the part that I saw concerned me. When the question of whether Jesus is the only way to get into heaven was posed, he danced around the answer preferring as he put it “to not cast judgement” and “rather leave that decision to God”.
“Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Seems pretty clear to me.
My you tubing went on and I found another very prominent preacher who replied to this interview, calling the pastor concerned a coward and expressing a desire to punish him for taking such a weak stance and not declaring the truth. The thing that struck me was that this preacher, while in my belief telling the truth, he did come across at times as judgmental, and his congregation even looked a tad possessed the way they jumped up in agreement. Another preacher also attacked the tv interview pastor from his pulpit, but this guy used names and used his sermon to tar and feather the tv guy. It was really interesting to see such a spectrum, on the one hand we had a guy who came across as completely soggy and not wanting to offend even the hairs on non-beleivers heads, the other guys came out with guns blazing ready for war and indifferent to the casualties.
What was striking and what I took home is the desire of many churches to populate buildings and chairs rather than robbing hell to populate heaven. The thing with todays culture is that truth is only truth to the extent that the individual finds it true. But that’s not bible, and since when does telling the truth mean I am judging you? You don’t have to believe the truth, but that doesn’t affect how true it is. Yes, Luke 6:37 calls us not to judge, but please, where is it recorded that telling someone the truth is judging, it can be, but that’s a heart issue not a truth issue.
All through the old testament and even today people are dying for this truth, but some today are too scared to tell it like it is for fear of lawsuits and offending people. I think we can learn from Jesus who always spoke the truth, but changed how he projected it depending on the audience, look at the woman at the well versus the pharisees. We cannot afford as believers, as husbands, Fathers and men to filter down the truth that was and is died for just to save face. We are called to love a broken world, to be signposts to the father, but just imagine the damage we cause if we start changing the directions just because we feel the people on the journey may prefer another way, a more comfortable, seeker sensitive way.
Truth is not about judging, it’s about declaring to a dying people that they have a Saviour, a way to spend eternity in His presence and to spend their years on earth in relationship with their awesome creator as He guides and leads them along still waters. They can find comfort now and seek refuge now when they feel they cannot go on anymore, they can find family, support and real truth that is unchanging.