WIGGLE ROOM - Week of June 5th
By Judy NicholsJune 5, 2016
Some of my worst parenting failures were in the area of giving my children too much wiggle room – not being clear enough in what I was expecting of them or what would happen if they disobeyed. I gave them too many chances before executing the consequences.
I was thinking about the story in Mark, chapter six, where Jesus gave the twelve instructions and sent them out in pairs. Then verse 12 says, "They went out and preached that men should repent." Really? That was their message? Repent!?
So I wondered what the core message was in the Apostles’ sermons in the New Testament. Peter’s first sermon on the Day of Pentecost explained that the disciples’ speaking in tongues was the fulfillment of prophecy, declared that God had raised Jesus from the dead – also a fulfillment of prophecy, and affirmed their culpability in His death. And then, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins." (Acts 2:38).
Likewise, in his second sermon, after healing the lame beggar, Peter reminded the people that they had delivered and disowned Jesus and asked for a murderer to be released in His stead. He moderated it by saying he knew they acted in ignorance and that the prophets had declared that the Christ should suffer. But still the point of his sermon was this, "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away" (Acts 3:19).
Paul, in his sermon on Mars Hill in Athens, introduced God as the Creator who is omnipresent, cannot be confined to a temple nor served by human hands. He appointed when and where people would live and provided enough light – knowledge of His existence – for people to want to seek Him. And then he gets right to the point. "Having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
There is no wiggle room in these messages. We try to make the gospel attractive (and it is attractive). But it is not something we get from Macy’s to make us look better or be more comfortable; it is not something that will enhance our upward mobility. A better analogy would be that we are on the deck of the Titanic as it’s going down! It is our only hope! Any clear presentation of the gospel should leave no doubt in the hearer’s mind that God says what He means and means what He says, as any good parent should. It is wonderful to know that He loves us and sent His Son to die in our place, but until one is convinced of his need of a Savior, it will fall on deaf ears.
© Judy Nichols 2016