How to respond…

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:12-13 NIV)

Brennan Manning says…

“This is a passage to be read and reread because every generation has tried to dim the blinding brightness of its implications. Those of us scarred by sin are called to closeness with Him around the banquet table. The kingdom of God is not a subdivision for the self-righteous or for those who lay claim to private visions of doubtful authenticity and boast they possess the state secret of their salvation. No, as Eugene Kennedy notes, ‘It is for a larger, homelier, and less self-conscious people who know they are sinners because they have experienced the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.’ The men and women who are truly filled with light are those who have gazed deeply into the darkness of their own imperfect existence.”

As we look out into a culture which seems to be slipping into the abyss, we should keep in mind…

1) That we should not be surprised. This has been predicted for over 2000 years (2 Tim 3:1-5; 4:3) and will continue to get worse, not better. Each day, we are one day closer to Jesus’ return.

2) Nor should we think that God has lost control or been taken by surprise. God is on His throne. His Word will endure forever. The gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.

3) That we should pray for all people. Our friends and our opponents. The leaders and the followers… everybody and everyone because “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

4) Find another way of reaching those we need to reach beside Bible-thumping and doctrine-thumping. Although, unfortunately, there will be plenty of “hellfire and brimstone” preaching this Sunday, those that need to be reached won’t be in attendance. It is God’s kindness that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). It is God’s kindness, love, grace, and mercy expressed through the Cross of Jesus Christ that will change hearts. Shaking heads and pointing fingers will not soften hearts. But the love of God can and will. As Christians, we need to love better, plain and simple.

Also, in good conscience, I cannot shake my head, point my finger, and stand aghast without looking in the mirror. When I look in the mirror, I do the same: shake my head and stand aghast at my own heart… and then – in desperation – cry out to the One who supplies the love, grace, and mercy to us all.

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