My professional life and ministry have been built on asking one question. “What’s missing?” When I watch news stories, this is what I ask, “What aren’t they telling us?” When our government addresses the nation on a story/issue, again, my intuition says, “What are they leaving out?”
I know for some, it might sound as if I’m a skeptic about everything, and to be honest I am. The only thing I am not skeptical about is God and His Word because I know I am getting the truth. Everything else I hold in tension until it proves to be right.
Lately, my obsession has been to ask some intensive questions about how we see Jesus. I am not questioning who He is, nor am I questioning any doctrinal issues, it is more about how He is presented by our modern churches. I think most of us hear a message generally talking about Jesus as the Lamb of God whose death on the Cross was the most dynamic event in history. Nothing compares to it, and it was God proving His love for us by giving us a way to know Him and be with Him forever. What could be better than that? Nothing! So, if your church is telling you that message repeatedly, I hope you are listening. Yet, when I read the Scriptures, for example, I see that Jesus as that Lamb, that person who is clarifying God’s ways more clearly for His audiences both now and then. The part of me that asks, “What is missing,” is the part of God that most of the Old Testament describes … a God of justice.
If God has not changed, and He is the same forever, then why do we not see that same God via justice in the New Testament? Well, I believe it’s there, but often not presented as such because the bigger picture for the church is to tell the story of the Lamb. I understand that completely. However, in all fairness to understand who God is, we must talk about His justice.
Once I started talking about Jesus as being dangerous, I got lots of feedback, mostly disagreeing about the statement, and now I see why. ‘Dangerous’ to most people means ‘injurious’ … a sense that danger will hurt you and cause you pain or death. I, like you, would avoid that kind of danger. But the ‘dangerous’ I am referring to is the kind of danger that reveals God's full nature as Savior and Judge.
As a child, I grew up in a religious system where I knew that the system saved me … if I practiced the system. I never heard about God’s personal side of wanting to have a relationship with me on a personal level until I was 20 years old. What happened? It was never talked about, never presented to me for further discovery. In this same way, if the justice of God is never presented in a way that makes people aware of the day of reckoning, or a day of accountability for how we lived, this is a tragedy for those of us who claim to know God. Jesus told us that we should not fear anything in this world, except for one thing … God:
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Luke 12 4And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
This is a perfect example of what to fear in this life … it is God. For me, this is a dangerous statement … it is an example of the many words Jesus used to cut through the lies we believe and to tell the truth. The truth is dangerous … it never lies, it never compromises or changes direction, and the truth never changes. That is why it is so dangerous. It can free a soul from bondage, release people from confusion, and it can set people free to know God and enter His Kingdom.
Nothing is more important than knowing God, but everything in this world is just the opposite. It is built on lies because it presents a false truth, an inadequate rendering of what life’s purpose is all about. Jesus is dangerous to this world because He exposes the lies, condemns the practices of hypocrisy, and presents a clear path to understanding God. He is dangerous because He tells people that He loves them, but that He will also judge them.
Recently I asked some theologian friends two questions: “Was Jesus involved with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?” and, “Is Jesus the one who is overseeing the destruction recorded in the Book of Revelation if He was the only one worthy of opening the seals?” Obviously, these questions have no relevance to salvation, yet, to understanding God they do. They show to us that Jesus is not just a person on a Cross, which to accept His sacrifice, is dangerous enough, but for those of us who believe He is coming back to earth to judge the earth, it is even more dangerous. Why is it dangerous?
· Accepting what the Cross means, you are now a target of evil. You must learn to resist evil and submit all to God. Dangerous to who I am, what I have done, and what I possess. Surrender is dangerous … it means that my complete life is lived for Him.
· Accepting the grace and justice of God means I need to know how to conduct my life in a manner that is worthy of Him. Obedience is dangerous because it will cost you everything. Living a life under His authority is not easy, it will test you, it will probe you, it will search you in every way possible. This is dangerous because it will change your life from the inside out.
I have lived too long with a nice knowledge of the assurance of Christ as a safe, kind, well-defined pattern for the direction of my life. So, is this what God wants for me? For you? A well-defined safety zone for your family, where God is good all the time, and I am satisfied with it?
When I was growing up in the church, the prayer we prayed was: “Lord break my heart with what breaks Yours.” I am convicted today more than ever, that Jesus is dangerous to my sin, my self-assurance, the idols in my life, the complacency of my discipleship, the unforgiveness in my heart, and my apathy to see people saved. Yes, Jesus is dangerous because only He can change me, forgive me, and help me to sacrifice my life for His honor and glory. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words keep ringing in my ears today as I write this blog: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler