Here's a reflection on a recent experience of his that is simply stunning.
I'm mulling this over just now because of something a friend of mine recently said to me. He is very disappointed that I'm disengaging from my church (more on that in another post), and he said, "Bob, I respect your focus on the gospel and the cross and all that, but our church is just in a different season right now. For everything there is a season and a release."
You might have felt the tremor when my jaw hit the floor.
It just makes me wonder, you know?
* If Jesus is all in all, shouldn't he be the emphasis of our preaching?
* If Jesus is both the cornerstone and the capstone, shouldn't he be be given similar status in our preaching?
* If Jesus is the first born of creation and the one in whom all things hold together, shouldn't he "hold together" our sermon outlines?
* If he died for the saving of all humanity from eternal suffering, shouldn't he be the one we persistently make a big deal about in our Chruch talks?
* If he bestrides land and sea and if all creation will one day bow to him in awe, should we be preaching about, umm, behavior modification?
* And if he will one day return to judge both the living and the dead, should he not be routinely, decisvely central to everything we teach and preach as Christ-ians?
* And if the Holy Spirit lives to see to it that Christ alone is glorified, shouldn't our preachers preach Christ, knowing nothing among us but Christ and him crucified?
You know, that which Jesus has done for me and is doing for me is the source of all the peace I have ever known. No amount of preacherly urging to change my life has ever caused me to change it one bit. But Jesus, he has changed my life once and for all.
And you know, the people who get the gospel -- I don't mean "know what it is," but who have been utterly transformed and captivated by it -- get what all the fuss is about. Those who are gospel deficient don't care or don't notice that their church is gospel deficient or their pastor doesn't preach Jesus except as a good example (if at all).
The right response to this asinine idea that there is a season to focus on the gospel and there is a season in which it's okay to focus on something else are these words from Paul, an exhortation that ought to be a rebuke for these times:
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist [a gospelist!], discharge all the duties of your ministry.
-- 2 Timothy 4:1-5