Pastor John

Pastor John

Talk The Walk

As we are just days removed from the unprecedented anarchy we witnessed in our nation’s capital as well as being just days away from threats of even more violent attacks during next week’s presidential inauguration, people are on edge, people are tense, people are angry. Most of all, people are scared.

These tragic events reminded me of a conversation I had last March with Dr. Steve Brown that was featured in our Sages For the Ages sermon series we did at that time. (I encourage you to watch or re-watch that message by clicking here. It is even more relevant now than it was then.)

Steve Brown is a colorful character. He is an 80-year-old pastor/teacher who has seen a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly about churches in his time. He said, “If you want to hear truth spoken, it is probably best to listen to an old guy. Old guys do not have anything left to protect; there is no advantage in spin for them.” He truly doesn’t care what you think about him. He just speaks truth in love.

He writes in his latest book Talk The Walk (with the coolest subtitle ever, “How to be right without being insufferable”) “There are times when I wish I was wrong. There are times when I do not want to speak the truth that I know to be true. There are times when the truth I know to be true causes me to wince. There are doctrinal truths that make everyone uncomfortable…Nevertheless the truth is true.”

Looking back on that conversation, he and I shared our concerns about our nation ending up pretty much where we are right now during this most toxic of election cycles. I wish we both were wrong, but it’s turned out even worse than we imagined.

When people ask what Steve Brown does, he replies, “I tell people who want to hear about Jesus…and if you want me to, I’ll be glad to share it with you.” He says he does not have a theology to share, but rather a friend you should meet. I like that.

Dr. Brown points out in his book that wherever people have met Jesus, the real Jesus–Jesus the Master, not Jesus the mascot—hospitals and schools, orphanages and clinics mark his path. He states that whenever God’s people move in “slavery is condemned, women are affirmed, racial hatred is ameliorated, and sex trafficking shamed.”

“It is incumbent on Christians” he writes, “to be a benediction in every place they live and work.”

Above all, when people meet Jesus, they hear good news and it seems like our world could sure use all the good news we can get right about now. But let’s make sure they are hearing the real good news– not just learning the minimum entrance requirements for getting into heaven after we die; but how heaven gets into you before you die. Jesus’ gospel was not about a final relocation program; it’s about an on-going transformation process. It’s not about where God wants to take you to later; it’s about what God wants to do in you right now. The gospel is not a presentation about what you need to do to go to heaven after you die. The gospel is a proclamation about what God has done to get heaven into you beforeyou die!

Jesus’ first public gospel message—you know, the one that almost got Him killed before His ministry even started, remember that one? —was a reading of the prophet Isaiah that spoke of the work the long-awaited Messiah came to do:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

In short, Jesus came to love us. And a nation divided needs a church united—not united in pursuing political power, but united in prioritizing Jesus’ love for us and for others–even those we are totally convinced are totally wrong. Because it is possible to be right and be insufferable.

This week we continue our Love Is _________ series by looking at a love inhibitor that hardly anyone acknowledges. Join us onsite at either our Apopka or Lake County locations or online from anywhere.

Loving the Journey,

Pastor John