We’ve turned into a society of wimpy third graders: everyone is offended by everything, we need safe spaces to protect our feelings, and absolute truth has become absolutely defunct. And it’s beginning to infect the church.
Truth is hard. That’s kind of the point. It’s not popular. It’s not convenient. It’s not sexy.
And I get it. Rocking the boat is uncomfortable. Confrontation is sticky. Speaking out against untruth is unloving and unacceptable – even though we are all preached acceptance. Being politically incorrect makes one an outcast and the “bad apple” of society.
Call me what you want. Call me narrow-minded. Call me old school. Call me intolerant. Or just call me crazy that I’m not all that concerned with impressing you.
But because I do love you (though it may not come in the much preferred form of flowery words and hearts and kittens), I am wholeheartedly concerned with impressing upon you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – so help me God.
False gospels are everywhere screaming at us lies laced with truth. We easily point out the prosperity gospel as a false gospel that wreaks with ignorance. As Jen Hatmaker, in her book For The Love, so succinctly puts it: “If it (the gospel we believe) isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, then it isn’t true.” And most of us would respond with a resounding “yes and amen!” to the truth of that statement. But there’s an even more dangerous false gospel that permeates American Christianity, and it is so common place we usually don’t even recognize it. It is the Feel Good gospel. We want a God, a Jesus, a church, a small group, a faith that makes us feel good. Because if it doesn’t feel good then it can’t possibly be of God. I know it sounds absurd when you say those words out loud, but it’s how we live. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Feelings are fickle. We cannot let our feelings frame our theology or define our God. And we cannot half-heartedly care about God’s truth and expect to become more like Jesus. In speaking to the church in Laodicea, God accuses them of being lukewarm – neither hot nor cold, and says He will spit them out of His mouth. (Rev 3:15-16). God-forbid that He ever say the same for us!
I may come off as intense, but it’s because of a deep reverence for God’s word and a deep love for you that we are having this conversation anyway. I am not judgmental. I have just enough discernment to call a spade a spade – and a sin a sin. I know we all think we are the exception, but the truth is your life, your experiences, and your feelings do not, cannot, and will not ever trump the truth of God’s Word. It is infallible and inerrant, and He is faithful and unchanging. It is really the only thing that matters.
No sin is greater than any other. No one sin held Christ more tightly to the cross than all the rest. I am no less guilty than you. But our life literally hinges on our response to our sin. Are we repentant or do we make it a bed and invite it to live with us? Do we take Christ’s sacrifice for granted and trample His grace under foot unfazed? Listen: we need His sacrifice and His grace, more than we realize!
We “accept” Jesus like we’re doing Him a favor (you know, because He was feeling so lonely and insecure without our acceptance), and treat the truth of the Bible as all optional add-ons. Keep in mind: we are working out our salvation (with fear and trembling – Phil 2:12) and pursuing holiness, not ordering toppings for a pizza! We can’t choose to believe some parts of His Word but wholly disregard others. The Bible is either all true or not true at all.
God is true to His Word 100% of the time and He takes it very seriously. And we should, too. Yes, there is grace – there is SO so much grace, but it is only for the repentant, the true believers, the ones in whom His Spirit resides. That’s the good news! For me. For you. That’s the gospel! In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul pens a list of the types of people who will not inherit the kingdom of God. And while it’s easy to think of this list as “those people,” the truth is sobering: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (Verse 11) But for the blood of Jesus, none of us would inherit the kingdom of God.
So what’s the point?
1) We need to know His Word. That means reading it. Often. I know you’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy, but we will make time for what is most important to us. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” But it is only useful if we actually know it.
2) We need to understand it. This means understanding context as well. It is only too easy to twist Scripture to meet our needs. If you don’t understand what you are reading, find a reliable commentary (I like the Blue Letter Bible) or ask someone who can explain it to you. (Acts 8:27-35)
3) Finally, once we know His Word, we have a responsibility to use it “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training.” We cannot allow lies and feelings to run our lives and our churches. Being silent would be unloving.
And so, dear friends, as much as I can implore you to do so, be in His Word. Read it. Know it. Love it. Then, as unpopular as it might be, use it! Hide God’s Word in your heart, and teach others to do the same. The truth will set you free (John 8:32) and can set others free as well. It’s not cliché – it truth!
I pray today that you will know that truth in your life. And that God will use you to free others from the destructive grasp of the Feel Good gospel.