I was thinking about Winston Churchill, one of my heroes. A movie that made a huge impact on me was “The Gathering Storm” about Churchill in the 1930’s. He was already old and pretty much out of favor in Britain. In the British parliament he just kept up his “rant”, if you will, against the dangers of Germany and Hitler’s rise. But it wasn’t what people wanted to hear and he was pretty much “a voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23), going against the wind and the tide of the times. But he was right, very right. And ultimately, as that movie shows, the nation came to see that he’d been right all along in his warnings.
It can be a lonely job at times to tell truths that are unpopular and go against popular opinion. It can be tough to be tough. And sometimes, actually, it can be God’s will to be a little tough. Jesus was. Yes, He was, at least in some sense. You don’t usually hear about this from the pulpit but in John 6 Jesus gave His “cannibal speech”. Today we have sanitized the whole thing and understand it by the Spirit. But back then it was very, very rough.
So rough that it says that some of His disciples said, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it?” (John 6:60) The Bible goes on to say, “From that time, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.” (John 6:66) What happened? Well, Jesus told them, “Except you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you.” (John 6:53)
That doesn’t bother you because you’ve had it explained to you and you know Jesus was not speaking of cannibalism. But the ones who heard Him say it that day really didn’t get it. And it gets worse. In Luke 14 “Great multitudes followed Him and He turned and said to them, ‘If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother and wife and children, yeah and his own life also, He cannot be my disciple’.” (Luke 14:26)
So there you have it in the Gospels, cannibalism and hatred. Of course we now know and understand what we feel those things mean. But the point is, there are some relatively hard sayings in some places in Scripture, even in the four Gosples. And if we’re following the Lord and letting the Lord speak to us and through us, at times there are still hard sayings today.
Maybe it’s like the phrase people use nowadays, “tough love.” That’s how it can be. Solomon said, “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” (Proverbs 9:8) Let’s face it, most of us are not that wise and don’t love getting rebuked. Still Solomon was right; being shown a better way than your own can be tough but it also really helps.
I guess I’ve been a little concerned because I know that recently I’ve put some things in my posts that may have been “hard sayings” to some of my friends. I hesitate to apologize because I just know and feel that there has to be a time in each life where difficult things need to be said in order to make things better. It’s certainly not a matter of hate or, hopefully, of self-righteousness. It’s just that in order to help each other, we have to say things that are difficult, things that call us to a serious appraisal of ourselves and even to repentance for our slackness and an urging to great commitment to Him.
This can not only be difficult to receive, it can be difficult to share. But I’ve often been on the receiving end of some rather strong but Godly council from Christian brethren who were trying to help me see the error of my ways and the areas I needed to make Christian progress in. It was not easy to receive and sometimes it wasn’t even shared with me in all that sweet a lovey-dovey package. Nevertheless, the Lord’s truth was there and I needed “to see the lightning without feeling the bolt”, which was not always easy.
So when I share things in some of my posts that may come across as challenging or almost extreme to some, I hope I’m sharing these things in love, often as lessons I myself have experienced and gone through. Again, going back to movies many of us have seen to be an example of this, “An Officer and a Gentleman” is an incredible movie that shows these things so well. Staring Richard Gere and Louis Gossett, Jr., Gere is in basic training to be a navy pilot and Gossett is his hard-as-nails drill sergeant and instructor. It basically seems like Gossett hates Gere and is doing all he can to get him to fail. But the movie brings out that the drill sergeant has to be that way in order to get Gere to be a completely remolded man and to know if he will be of the meddle that can have what it takes to be at that level of the military.
And so it is with us. The Lord loves us but wants to make us into something useful and fruitful for Him. I’ve been through the fire, the flood, the anvil and the ice at times in my life. It was rough, sometimes really rough, but I’m still around and I’ve profited from those tough experiences. If you find things in my blog posts that push you, challenge you or make you feel uncomfortable, hopefully it will not be something you take personally. Instead you’ll see it as my trying to share what I’ve learned in my life with you and my trying to help all of us to go further up the mountain of His will, further along the road of the cross, further along the road of commitment and fruitfulness.
Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended in Me.” (Luke 7:23) My hope and prayer is that what I share in my posts, although they may be zealous, will be a blessing to you, even if some things are hard to receive or understand at times. God bless you, your friend, Mark