Christian radio stations offering their listeners a “daily positive thought”…
This is what the gospel has been reduced to: sentimental, positive thinking that is great for the whole family. However, this is not the gospel of Scripture. While the “good news” of Jesus Christ does bring life, reconciliation and hope, it is much more than that.
First, the gospel is disturbing. It is a gracious disturbance, but nonetheless it is intended, by God, to rattle our cages—it has to if it is to wake the dead. I see the gospel agitating us in at least three ways.
> The gospel is brutally honest revealing who we are, how we have sinned and rebelled against God, and it now calls us to repentance. (Mark 1:15; 2:17)
> The gospel expresses unfathomable love and condescension (Mark 10:45). Someone had to die to cleanse us from our sin and that someone is the holy Son of God.
> The gospel calls us to die that we might find life (Mark 8:34-38; 10:17-23). This death is a daily crucifixion of all of our selfish, self-centered desires and wishes. This is painful and deliberate. If this is not taking place, then it is obvious that we are still outside of Christ.
As we look into the pages of Scripture we will see that the gospel not only is disturbing, it is also divisive. In Luke 12:49-53 Jesus states:
“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
The fire mentioned here is the great purifying work of the Holy Spirit as He comes upon the believer washing away his sins and beginning the work of sanctification. This imagery of fire is seen throughout Scripture (see Matthew 3:11; Isaiah 4:4; Malachi 3:2; Acts 2:3).
This division not peace is not a random goal of our Lord’s. The division that comes is an outcome or result of the purifying work of the Holy Spirit. With the purifying work of the Holy Spirit comes our positional sanctification … we are set apart from evil and consecrated for our Lord’s use. The children of God are no longer of this world and this is why we are hated and in enters the division. On that final night before His arrest, Jesus taught His disciples:
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20)
So in this disturbance and division, how do we correctly understand and respond to the gospel? We can’t soften the piercing nature of the message. We can’t put spin on it to make it “always positive and uplifting.” In Mark 10:15, we are told how we are to receive the good news and the position we are to take: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” So the child of God …
Humbles himself - he is no longer in charge;
Trusts emphatically – there is nothing he can do or understand on his own;
And expresses uninhibited delight and joy in His Father and the good things He gives.