Gleanings – Truth Delayed is Truth Denied

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

“Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.”

“We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God.”

Exhorted, encouraged and charged. Strong messages with high expectations, that is what the early church offered. And it was offered to please God, not to tickle the ears of man. Flattery, indeed anything that puffs up one’s view of self, was absent from the earliest proclamation.

That was then. This is now. In your mind scribble a quick list of some of the best known preachers in America. Not your favorites necessarily but the most popular, the top forty of the pulpit if you will. How many of them excel in flattery? How many avoid difficult things? One of the most popular, I need not name the man but Houston we have a problem, gladly owns that he avoids preaching that confronts people with sin, preaching that might make the masses uncomfortable because God does not want us to feel that way.

Another very popular preacher, who by comparison to the man above is all about fire and brimstone, was heckled recently on a Sunday morning. Someone yelled, “Why don’t you preach the Gospel?” And the answer is? By the way, heckling in a service of worship is to be admonished. But now that the question has been asked . . .

Far too much preaching in the modern day is entertainment. It makes us laugh. It tickles the ear. When difficult things are not skipped, humor is employed to blunt the hard truths. Risky business given that we hear Jesus say “whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” Least!

Here is why this is dangerous for the church. Light truth leads to light grace. Of course central to the Gospel is “God so loved the world.” But in a world void of truth what’s not to love? We don’t feel loved deeply because love is an expectation if not an entitlement. It is not amazing given how wonderful we are. The truly astonishing thing about the Gospel is being loved in spite of who we are not because of it. Inexplicable is a God who loves me unconditionally in spite of my ambivalence about Him and at times my outright rebellion towards Him.

Conclusion? Truth makes Grace gracier. And He dwelt among us full of grace and truth, not one to the exclusion of the other.

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