Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Please Don't Shoot the Messenger!

When you watch the news and the anchorperson tells you the news for the day, do you get upset with them if you don't like the news they are reporting?  Most of the time when I watch the news, I hate what they are saying.  A lot of what they report is not good but it's not the reporter or the anchorperson who I blame for the news - they are just reporting what they know so I can't be mad at them for telling me the truth, whether I like it or not.  You know the saying "Don't shoot the messenger"?  I guess that would apply to this situation!

Speaking of messengers, I was reading in John 13 today and the words of Jesus rang in my heart.  He said in verse 16..."I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master.  Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message."  He goes on in verse 20 to say "I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me."  Jesus is the One who sends the message - Christians are just the messengers.

Unfortunately, often times in the world, people are angry with the messengers that Jesus sends.  No one wants to hear they are a sinner.  No one wants to hear about hell.  No one wants to hear about judgment or wrath.  So, instead of listening to the messengers who speak from God's Word, they "shoot the messengers".  But does that change the message?  No, it doesn't.  The message may not be the news that people want to hear, but it's the truth according to the Bible and it's important that we all face this at some point in our lives.  And this "bad news" can be delivered in love from a person who has been there - one who remembers what it's like when the news first came to them.

The problem is, often times we get it backwards.  Have you noticed that on the newscast they report all the bad news first...and then they follow it up with some light-hearted, good news stories as they close out?  I think that is strategic.  They close out on a good note, leaving you feeling a little less violated.  I believe that is an effective way to give the message of Christ to a lost world.

You see, there is some very bad news...like the fact that we are all sinners and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23) and that there is a God who will judge us all (2 Peter 3:7), there is no one who is righteous enough to get to heaven - not even the nicest person we know (Romans 3:10), our sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and that we have an enemy, the Devil (1 Peter 5:8).

But there is also some very, very GOOD news!  God sent Jesus to die for us and become the sacrifice for our sins and when we believe in Him through faith, He restores that relationship with God (Romans 3:9-31), Jesus Christ is the way to heaven (John 14:6), God will forgive us of our sins if we confess them and repent (1 John 1:9), God is patient with us and doesn't want any of us to perish (Psalm 145:8; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:32) and God loves us deeply (John 3:16).

I've often thought about how if someone were to come to my door and say "I found the cure for your illness!" I'd think they were crazy because I am not ill!  But if I were diagnosed with something terminal and then someone approached me with a cure, I would definitely want to hear about it.  If we don't let people know there is a diagnosis of sin and separation from God, they will not understand when we try to offer only the "good news" without the bad.  I think that's what's been going on in the world - we are so afraid to offend, so afraid to share the truth of God's word because people don't receive it well.  We want them to only hear the good news - but without knowing the bad news, the good news won't make any sense!

I had someone write to me the other day "I find it interesting that some people think that Christians wish that all be saved and led to Christ as some sort of hatred. I understand it for what it is, your true love for those you fear may not be saved in time. It is the greatest compliment that you may offer, that you think I am worthy of salvation..."  My eyes welled with tears because I saw that someone finally understood that my efforts are totally motivated by my heart for people and a desire to be obedient to the God I love, not my desire to be right or a "holy commission" of sorts! And the truth is, I'm not the only one who believes this person is worthy of salvation - God believes he is.  He believes you are worth it, too.

Now, if you don't agree with me on any of this, please don't shoot the messenger! :)  I'm only reporting what I know to be true from the pages of God's word and hopefully it is being delivered in the love it is intended to be delivered in.  He has appointed all believers to be messengers of His truth.  My heart is to tell people what He has told me to tell - and to do it with gentleness and respect for those I share it with.

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