Jesus, love, and warm fuzzies

Misinformation makes the world go round. Think about it. When a national or international catastrophe happens the first reports we hear from major news agencies are usually hyperbolic in nature. We know this because of the expected caveats we hear in later newscasts: "Contrary to earlier reports, there was only one suspect not three and there were 4 victims not 13..." The story based on misinformation is more tantalizing to the ears and certainly garners more viewers and attention.

This phenomenon doesn't just belong to the media. Books, movies, and television shows thrive on misinformation. The good guy suddenly becomes the bad guy because of a bit of false information that makes others believe he's gone rogue and is out to destroy the country. Sound familiar? It should, because this is the flow of so much of the  crime and suspense entertainment that's out there.

There is also misinformation within faith circles which is probably the most damning of all. If you were alive on September 11, 2001, then you were probably glued to the news as planes shattered buildings and lives in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. We were told that Muslim extremists committed these heinous acts and before you knew it all Muslims were called into question and labeled with suspicion. Yet there I was, sitting in a mosque in Northern Sudan several years later with an imam apologizing to me on behalf of his Muslim brothers and sisters for what happened on 9-11. As a Christian, I do not share this man's beliefs and I know that those who committed the shameful acts on 9-11 were Muslims, but it was pretty obvious that this man sitting across from me didn't run in the same circles as the Muslim extremists we'd been told so much about. He had no desire to blow me up and he was actually interested in hearing what I had to say about Jesus.

Consider Christianity for a moment. Here's the skinny for those of you who don't know:
  • God created all that is with man being the pinnacle of His creation
  • Man turned his back on God and chose self (sin) over a satisfying relationship with the Creator of the universe
  • God knew man was helpless to save himself so He stepped out of heaven, clothed Himself in human flesh as Jesus, and lived among us preaching truth and revealing a glimpse of God's kingdom
  • Jesus was eventually falsely accused by those who hated Him and sentenced to death on a cross - but it was all good because this was God's plan all along. Jesus came to die for our sins, which He didn't commit, so that we could have our relationship with God restored, which we don't deserve.
  • Jesus rose from the grave three days after His death, thus conquering death and completing God's plan of redemption for mankind
This is the most beautiful, perfect example of love and grace that could ever be told. It's the foundation of the Christian faith and it's what I've staked my life upon. Almost every Christian that I have ever encountered agrees with this narrative of the faith.

But then things get a little fuzzy when start to dig a little deeper. There is this segment within and without the Christian faith that wants to edit the story so that it has more warm fuzzies to it and less judgment and bad vibes. To them, God is all about love and nothing more. 1 John 4:8 even tells us that, "God is love." Therefore it only make sense that anything that creates static or uneasiness or division must go. God loves everybody just the way that they are - He's okay with you no matter what life choices you make. Thus, the script gets rewritten and the misinformation campaign continues to truck on down the road.

Before we move on let me get one thing straight. We are not on the same level with God and it's rather silly for us to tell others how we think He feels about things. He's God, perfectly holy, worthy off all the praise that a universe full of voices could sing to Him without taking a breath for countless millennia. Those who express offense when behaviors and lifestyles are called into question are usually those who overlook the realities that are pointed out in the Bible, God's word to us. God is love but God is also just and righteous and cannot tolerate our sin. Somehow that last part seems to get edited out more often than not.

We can boil it down to this: We want the grace that Jesus gives but not the rebuke that comes with it. For those that want just the warm fuzzies but none of this talk about sin, I have to ask the question: Why in the world did Jesus die on the cross? The Bible is pretty clear when it comes to our condition. We are sinful people (Romans 3:23) unable to save ourselves (Ephesians 2:8-9) and hopeless without the blood of Christ being spilled for our redemption (2 Corinthians 5:21). Indeed the cross is the greatest symbol of love that the world has ever known, but it is also covered in blood that was spilled because of our great and ugly sinfulness.

At the cross Jesus bought our forgiveness but He did not erase the reality of our sin. Love covers us but sin continues to corrupt us. Those who are offended by others who constantly point out what the Bible labels as sin are hiding behind a delusion. Yes, there are those out there who are a bit too gleeful when it comes to denouncing what is sinful (they, too, need to repent of their own sinful pride and obstinacy) but the opposite reaction that refuses to call sin what it is - sin - is just as damaging.

Jesus is all about love, a love so great that it compelled Him to die for sins He never committed so that we would no longer be mastered by them. He didn't die as a nice gesture or because He's a good guy. He died so that we wouldn't have to. He's not okay with it when we trivialize and rationalize sin and those of who are His followers shouldn't be either.

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