What takes a person from being well spoken of for his gracious words one moment to people wanting to toss him off a cliff in the next?
Answer: challenging their unspoken, cherished worldview AND their view of themselves…especially the part about them being good, upright, God approved people just the way they are.
The preacher once preached on “We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” After the service, Dorothy (Mrs.), responded with haughtiness and disdain. “Some of us don’t think of ourselves as sinners.” She was offended, mightily.
Try preaching on “God hates divorce” sometime.
How dare Jesus say that in times of famine and plague, God only chose to help non-Jews! Why, that is suggesting that God’s own people aren’t special and maybe not better than the rabble! I take that personally! Off with the cliff! (said the Queen of Hearts)…
I know after one particularly honest sermon, one of the church elders suggested packing the preacher’s bags and tossing them from the second story window.
You might ask, but what about that good old hymn, “Just as I am”?
Yes, God is gracious to accept us just where we are, but in saying that, we must admit two things.
First, the miracle is about the fact that he would be well within his rights not to accept us at all. Just as I am isn’t about being I’m OK just as I am; it is about knowing that I am a wretched sinner and being awe struck to realize he accepts me anyway.
Dorothy, the church elder, many divorced people, the Jews in Nazareth did not think of themselves as sinners. They did not understand the song. They would likely say, “Why of course God accepts me the way that I am. Why wouldn’t he?”
Christians know better.
Second, it recognizes the truth of that old saying. Indeed, God accepts us just as we are… but then he Loves us too much to leave us there…