Lately, I’ve found myself mulling over the notion that many people today want a ‘fluffy, soft pillow’ kind of Jesus, rather than the hard hitting truths of our rock solid God.
We learn about this in 2 Timothy…
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather round them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
2 Timothy 4:2-5 NIVUK
Or put another way…
“… People will not tolerate sound doctrine and accurate instruction [that challenges them with God’s truth]; but … will … satisfy their own desires and … the errors they hold … and [they] will accept the unacceptable.”
2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4 AMP
“…They will find teachers who say what they want to hear.”
2 Timothy 4:3 ERV
As I read this, I am reminded of Simon in Matthew 16. He had incredible revelation of the Messiah. Jesus called him Peter, meaning ‘rock’, and said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it”. And YET, when Jesus spoke with him of his coming crucifixion and resurrection, Peter was offended. Offended by God’s truth. Offended by the gospel.
Offended. BOOM! It didn’t tickle his ears or his fancy. It wasn’t palatable and pleasant. He didn’t like that it was so confronting. He didn’t like the thought of Jesus enduring such hardship. Perhaps he thought it too extreme. Or maybe even unnecessary.
But Jesus didn’t water-down the gospel for him. He laid it out plainly, saying,
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
Matthew 16:24-25 NLT
Peter’s ‘rocky’ journey (pardon the pun 😉) continued…
After hearing about all that was to come, he told Jesus that he’d stand by him, never deny him. Again Jesus told him the truth – that he would in fact deny him three times before nightfall. Peter wouldn’t have it. Jesus was right…
“Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:75 NLT
Can you picture him?
I believe this was probably a turning point for Peter. I imagine his understanding of, and reliance upon, the Word would have increased dramatically in this moment. I get a sense of him acknowledging before God his own weakness and imperfection – his sinfulness – his need of the Messiah who gave His life to save him. I daresay he grieved greatly over his lack of faithfulness, his unbelief, and his desire for a ‘pleasing’ gospel rather than a saving one. I imagine him bowed down before the Father in prayer, repenting and turning from his ways, committing his life to serving Him. I feel a new line may have been added to his vocab, “What did Jesus say about this?”
Fast forward and he sees things unfold just as Jesus had told him they would. He sees the fulfilment of His promises. God did indeed use him mightily to build His church.
What a timely reminder for us to seek His truth and not be those who like having our ears tickled.
What blessings we can experience if we allow ourselves to be uncomfortable in God’s presence as He offends the things in us that do not align with His Word. What character will be built in us if we submit, in obedience to Him, to grow in our understanding in those areas. What bright futures lie ahead for those who humbly weep before our Messiah, allowing ourselves to become transformed into His likeness.
This week think on this…
“Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG
Consider what your ears are listening to and what the Spirit of Truth is speaking into your life.
(This has been so much on my heart lately. I’m getting more used to His ‘uncomfortable’ prompts as He deals with me in different areas. Be encouraged that He does so with love. Also, share your journey with some trusted friends – it’s great to encourage one another around the things He is doing in our lives).
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (several translations)
Photo credit: Pixabay
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