“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple.“ (Luke 14:26)
These words were not said to promote hatred but to share the bare reality that others judge us by when we’re following Jesus.
Jesus preaching the gospel and doing all his miracles did not always bring good fame to his surroundings. One could easily conclude that Jesus must have really hated even his own self to have gone against the practices of the religious establishment of his days even to his own death.
Jesus of Nazareth kept an aldutress from bein stoned. Jesus of Nazareth caused the pigs, the livelihood of a certain man to perish. Jesus of Nazareth didn’t even come to the rescue of John who spoke a lot about him and baptized him. He sat down and ate with sinners. He told his followers that they must eat his body and drink his blood in order to follow him.
Are you ready to be hated for the sake of the gospel? Are you ready for your own relatives and friends to be ashamed of you because of the gospel? Are you ready to act as if you really hate yourself by sharing the gospel, something that seems foolishness to so many?
The first to hate you will not be the world but the church who thinks and wants to operate like the world.
Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)
You’ll likely find a non-religious person to be friendlier and loving than a religious person. When someone operates by fear and dominates others by fear, he will hate anyone who threatens to take away such fear, “fearing” that he would lose control over others. If you were to see the reaction of the church today as it regards the gospel, you’d have to ask if it’s truly the church hearing the gospel or the religious leaders in Jesus’ days.
“Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23)
The gospel is not foolishness to the world alone but, lately, also the church. One preaches to the church that Jesus dies for the forgiveness of their sins, then he goes on summoning the church to kneel down ask God to forgive their sins. He sings the song, “Pardon was multiplied to me”, and yet he goes on asking God to forgive the sins of the church. He reads the verse, “He forgave all of our sins”, and yet tells the congregation that they need to ask God to forgive their sins. He sets up bread and wine, which symbolize the body of Christ broken and the blood of Christ shed for the forgiveness of their sins and the beginning of a new covenant. Still, he says, if anyone has any sin, they can neither eat of this bread, nor drink of this wine. If this is not foolishness, I don’t know what is.
The church is longing for miracles when the greatest miracle already took place at the cross and out of the grave. The church is longing for physical healing when mental healing from fear of punishment is what the church needs the most.
The church claims to preach a gospel that she’s rejecting at the same time. If this is not foolishness, I don’t know what is.
The gospel of the church is almost no longer what God did for them in Christ, but what someone does in accordance to what John had said to the Jews who have started to doubt the gospel believing that they had no sins. If they had no sins, therefore, they had no need for Christ and thus no need for the forgiveness freely given to them in Christ by God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
So what does 1 John 1:9 mean? It seems so clear, so simple, and almost conveys that our forgiveness is centered around our confession of our sins. But is that the case? Had God waited for us to confess our sins before Christ died on the cross? Had anyone asked Jesus to forgive their sins prior to Jesus telling them that their sins have been forgiven?
Today, the church is almost believing that the gospel is subtly centered around her confession of her sins in the hope that she will be forgiven. Whatever must have happened to the gospel of Christ?
And what happens to 1 John 2:12, “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”
Forgiveness existed before the world was ever created, was manifested at the cross, and is being preached through the gospel to all creation.
The gospel is not a plea to seek forgiveness, but a proclamation of God’s forgiveness of our sins once and for all in Christ Jesus.