Sunday we talked about one of the most difficult paradox’s of the Gospel. In order to live out our faith we need to be absolutely clear about sin…not excusing it…not overlooking it…never marginalizing it’s destructive nature…yet never placing ourselves in the position of JUDGE, because we are also sinners in need of a savior.
Another paradox of the gospel is what I like to think of as the “action paradox”. As followers of Jesus we are commanded to do the works of Jesus. Feed people. Care for the sick. Provide for the poor and widows. Good works. Popular works. The kind of actions you get awards for (as actionchurch did at this years Relay for Life). On the other hand, we are also commanded to preach the words of Jesus. Offensive words. Disturbing words. Not-so-inclusive words. (Ever stop and think what “No one comes to the Father except through me” actually means?)
It’s a difficult thing to live out either of these paradox’s. It’s easy as a Christian or Church to choose the praise and affirmation of people in our COMMUNITY over the Gospel…to do the Good works of Jesus, while ignoring the hard words of Jesus…to accept sins without pointing out the death that they lead to. It’s also easy to choose the praise and affirmation of other RELIGIOUS people over the true power of the Gospel…to preach the words of Jesus without doing his works in the community…to preach against sin without loving and accepting fellow sinners into the Church community…to become self-righteous and forget that we are all sinners.
I’ve been wrestling with these paradoxes for years…and I do not claim to have all…or even almost all of the answers. I do know, however, that truly living out Jesus’ kingdom plan for earth must involve both the WORDS and WORKS of Jesus. To truly love people you have to offer them BOTH immediate HELP and eternal HOPE. One or the other is simply NOT good enough.
So how can you “balance” the two extremes of the Gospel? I don’t think you can…or should. The only way is to follow the example of Jesus…To “do the will of the Father”. When people applaud your good works, point them to Jesus. When people want to crucify you :-) because you also share the words of Jesus, point them to Jesus. I can’t think of a better…more rewarding…and more difficult way to live.
If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”- Jesus (Mark 8:28)