Wednesday, 29 September 2010

So - smile! and forget all about it....

Sometimes I despair about communicating the serious message of the gospel in a world which loves and seeks out the flippant, the tearing down, the joke. Of course, we seek a joke to make a social situation more comfortable – and I understand this: There’s skill in making others feel at ease through humour. But what I’m talking about is the way we hear something serious and twist it into something to laugh at or make light of, totally missing the point that was being made.

I’ve been listening to the preaching of John Piper on Romans lately. Now, he can use absurd or humorous language to make a point. But he is is passionate big-time in speaking about God. One thing I’ve particularly noticed is how he urges his congregation to consider and dwell on the seriousness of God’s teaching. Here’s some examples:

  • Piper is urgent about spreading the good news of the gospel to make known the magnificent name of Jesus Christ. He is deathly serious about the situation that many are heading towards hell, settling for the things of this world and never turning back to their Maker. Like Solomon's serious words in Proverbs 1, or Jesus’ words in Jerusalem when he called people to come to the way of rescue in Him, that leads to true, lasting life – let’s be serious about this. So that people do not go down to a death without God, for lack of knowledge or because of the foolishness of how they treat the subject.

  • Piper is serious about being thankful and glad towards God and to others, making a point of showing his gratefulness for others’ gifts on a Sunday, for instance, or to his wife or others. I both love this and can learn from it

  • He is serious about getting people to understand that God is glorious in holiness and sovereignty over the whole earth, but also that he specially chooses a people for himself - people who do not deserve his love and forgiveness and holy righteousness. (How wonderful it is to see this so clearly!)

What’s more, Piper wants us to look hard at ourselves and our motivations – the things of the heart which only God sees. For instance, why do we do good things? What is the manner in which we do them? Is it with an awareness of the rescue plan God has put into place for us? Is it with an awareness of the rebellion that is in us, still close to our hearts? Do we recognise that He has done all and we are the recipients of wonderful grace?

Piper is earnest about the need to “get our knees” (or humble ourselves) in prayer and in love of God and in dependence on him. Nothing qualifies us for heaven except Jesus’ blood shed in sacrifice, if we accept it – so as Christians we are dependent on God. We are centred on Jesus, the source of our salvation. And we couldn’t do true good at all except for the influence of God on the world – so nothing we bring qualifies us for leadership or to help or teach others, it’s only the strength, gifts, good skills and opportunities which God brings us. Our very service and worship is enabled by God. So let’s attribute it all to him!

There’s much to be serious about. And much to grow in. Let’s determine to grow this week, even today, and take God seriously. Let’s heed his call to “listen” and see his work in our lives as significant. And let’s lead people with our words to greater subjects than the latest internet fad or the latest largely insignificant news story.

Image rights: ({{Information |Description=A smile a day keeps the pain and the doctor away |Source=[ :: A smile a day keeps the pain and the doctor away. ::] |Date=2009-04-03 15:55 |Author=[

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