Birthdays and Anniversaries:
7-11 Bill Grubbs
Sam & Alice Pirozzo have been fighting the covid virus.
Paul Tyler has a bad sort Parkinson’s. Please pray for him. His granddaughter, Michelle, scheduled for surgery
Darlyne Stewart, Karl’s sister, having some breathing problems due to treatments, cancer may have spread.
Shirley Weeks, Steve’s mom, had a fall again this week.
Sharon Best, Steven’s mom, finished chemo, declared in remission.
Sarah, Chris Girvin’s sister, on hospice care
Robert and Sue Waller, health issues.
Darla Nitti, Wendi’s mom, doing fairly well
Leta, has a recurring cancer, prayer request from her granddaughter via our website.
Tammy Jones, Weeks’ neighbor, kidney failure/dialysis
C.S. Lewis in his essay, “The World’s Last Night” explored a question. What if we have experienced our last night? What if the world were to end today?
Lewis claimed that preachers tend to avoid confronting people with mortality and the coming judgment. How does this square with Jesus’ preaching? Did Jesus ever address disturbing thoughts?
Jesus’ teaching ministry covered a great many topics. On one occasion he violated Pharisaic societal norms and values regarding outcasts and finances as he taught about the ways of God (Luke 15:2; 16:13-14). Later, to illustrate how important it is to embrace God’s counter culture kingdom ways, Jesus told a story.
His story placed in stark contrast a wealthy man and a poor beggar, Lazarus. The rich man’s success was underscored not only by his sumptuous meals, but also by receiving a proper burial. Conversely, the beggar sitting by the wealthy man’s gate longed for scraps of food. Then he died (Luke 16:19-22).
Jesus unveiled a shocking reversal of fortunes as he drew back a curtain to reveal the world of the dead. In hades the beggar was enjoying paradise whereas the rich man was trapped in agonizing torment.
Our human trait of empathizing invites the question, what would it be like for us to become trapped in such suffering hopelessness? We shutter at the thought.
For those willing to listen, Jesus pressed further. Within that fiery furnace situation Jesus sought to refine whether our hearts will give God’s ways the appropriate priority.
First, he recounted how the tormented man’s thoughts turned to his family. “I beg you, father—send Lazarus to my father’s house (for I have five brothers) to warn them so that they don’t come into this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28).
Then came the harrowing and sober response. “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them. … If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:29,31). Jesus confronted his listeners with the future and the necessity of responding to God’s word.
On various occasions Jesus focused on what would happen at the end in order to convict his listeners about how they should live in the present. These stories could include how some will be bound and cast out into darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). At other times he graphically described the separation that will occur at judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).
All of this can cause us to reflect on today’s teaching. Perhaps you have encountered the same thinking I have. Some reject discussing God’s judgment because they regarded this as being manipulative and causing fear. Often the statement “perfect love casts out fear” is then quoted. This is followed by asserting that people should be drawn to a winsome Savior, not motivated by the fear of hell. Yet within scripture as well as within practice people often respond to Jesus to save themselves (Acts 2:40). Having been saved, love for the Lord casts out fear.
I’ve taken a third path that avoids the extremes of always focusing on punishment or just extolling how Christ blesses. It is a path shaped by what I see in scripture.
Jesus’ preaching embraced many themes. Sometimes the Son of God found it necessary to explain the coming judgment. To help people live as they ought today he warned against being unprepared for tomorrow.
If we wish to teach like Jesus, then on occasion we too will announce a coming day in which God will judge the secrets of human hearts (Romans 2:16). Teaching like Jesus will surpass any well-intentioned thematically limiting filter we might contrive.
Barry Newton, link to original article