When I read the post about our church’s forthcoming sermon, I have to admit I was tempted to tuck my turtle-head inside Sunday’s list of better things to do and stay as far away as possible. It read this way:
“This Sunday at 9 & 11 Pastor Chris is teaching on ‘The City that God Builds – The Wrath of the Lamb.’ “
Wrath. Who could blame me for not buying advance tickets for that one, right? I envisioned either a strict, I’m-gonna-yell-at-you-until-you-become-incontinent or a fear-instilling, you’ll-never-avoid-hell-being-the-clown-you-are lecture. You know what I’m talking about. Anyone who’s ever attended an angry, guilt-inducing church hears me. Let’s just say I got that message a few too many times.
So, here I was conflicted about whether I was spiritually and emotionally willing, much less prepared, to bear the brunt of that beating again.
After a few strong drinks, (aka orange juice and bottled water) I suited up in my combat boots, (aka army green dress and black heels) sweating all the way (literally – you try getting three small children bathed, dressed, and fed before 8 am!) and I braced myself for the worst.
But the message I heard was not the message I expected. The message I heard was kind. It was loving. It was, amazingly, attractive.
The truth of the coming judgement of God was not shortchanged, but rather, cast in the light of a welcoming, drawing, saving Lamb. And lamb’s aren’t inherently angry. Their nature is not hostile. They are not violent or bent upon beating up their brothers – even when their brothers are nothing less than butt-holes.
Chris captured the person of Christ and successfully preached the truth about the coming judgement and wrath of God not by avoiding the hard parts of the text or glossing over them. He didn’t do it by being filled with his own wrath and anger. Chris successfully preached the truth about the coming judgement and wrath of God by showing up with the kindness and love of God; with mercy (Titus 3:4.)
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Pastor, for being kind. I hope I can learn to do as much.
Chris urged us to repent because he loves us; not because he’s angry with or disgusted by us. He never raised his voice. He never pointed his finger. He never pounded his fist on the pulpit. And, even though he and Jesus may indeed have every right and reason to the latter, he chose instead to highlight the former. I guess that’s just what a lamb does.
Maybe I really can trust a guy who positions love over top of anger. Maybe I can trust his Savior, too.