Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Eve Service: Uplifting?

Recently I was in the hospital with a close family member. We were there for five days as four doctors worked the case attempting to figure out what was wrong. The first three doctors signed off on the one I love and signed the release paperwork. Finally, one more doctor entered the room and clearly stated, “You are not going home; there is something wrong, and we will find it”.

We did not rush to the ER to get an uplifting message from a kind doctor; we went because something was wrong and we needed the truth regardless of the way it made us feel. Jesus said, "Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." (Mark 2:17). According to the eyewitnesses of Jesus, He is not interested in raising the ego of individuals nor is He concerned with giving an uplifting message so we feel good. No…Jesus is the kind doctor who tells you the truth regardless of the initial sting so that He can help you fix the problem. The world signs your release paperwork; Christ asks you to stay.  

"No one is righteous--not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one." (Rom. 3: 10-12)

While the ultimate end to Jesus’ message is uplifting to those who accept it; simultaneously, it brings about a sense of seriousness and sorrow as well. That is, the Bible is the PET scan exposing the bleakness inside, and we know what it means for many we love who ignore the truth. A few years ago, a family member ignored a lump in her belly for months without telling anyone. That small bump took her life within a few weeks of discovery. She needed a doctor, she needed honesty, and she needed to get well, but feared the news of the doctor and the result was sealed.

The gospel is good news, but it is not exactly uplifting when one considers the totality of its ramifications on all of humankind. “But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Mth. 7:14).

My prayer is that people come to church this Christmas season not to be uplifted, but to hear and receive the difficult and stinging truth of the good Physician, Jesus Christ. We are not well, and the prognosis is not good unless we accept the gift of eternal life via the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which paid the literal sickness that each of us contain. No one wants to hear they have terminal cancer, but what if you got a second opinion and that doctor said, “No problem, I can remove it and you will live.”  Would you say “No”? Would you allow his perceived arrogance to get in the way of life? Would you walk away simply because it is impossible to grasp the technique?

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” (2 Cor. 7:10)

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