Job 34:9 – For he says, "It profits a man nothing when he tries to please God." (NIV)
When I was in high school, I used to enjoy music, and looked forward to learning how to decode all of the notes and symbols on paper. Then one year, a new principal of music took over the department. She turned out to be the most obnoxious teacher in the whole school. She had a sour attitude towards most of her students, and even though we tried hard to please her with our efforts, it was never enough. Thus, instead of carrying on with music, most students, like myself, gave it up as soon as we could. If only her demeanour had been different, it might have produced a lot more musicians and singers in our school.
I remember one day when I was hurrying to get to my after-school work. In order to save time, I had changed out of my school uniform into my working clothes. Just before I left the school building, I met the music principal. She berated me for twenty minutes about not honouring the school by my being out of uniform. I tried to explain, but she wouldn't listen to me. All she was interested in was teaching me a lesson that had no relevance to my life. I was late for work, and had some of my precious pay docked. To this day, I have been unable to remember a single music lesson that she ever gave; all that I recall is her ugly attitude.
Sadly, for some people, God seems to be the same. Churches and preachers present a judgmental and vindictive God who wants to destroy sinners by the billions and wreak havoc in their lives. How can people be in love with a God who absolutely terrifies them? How can they cheerfully serve a deity who wants to eliminate them? If God is presented as being critical of people all of the time, then no wonder that the world is tuning out. Divine judgment is a serious issue, but there also has to be a generous helping of grace applied in order for the gospel to be effective and attractive.
Christ came into the world to encourage, comfort, and unite us by His love. He gave up His life because God loves this world. Jesus was raised from the dead because God wants that love to continue for ever. Isn't that the message of the gospel? Isn't that the hope we all have faith in? Isn't that the lesson we all yearn to learn?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we can never applaud You sufficiently for the work of salvation that You wrought for our world. We are truly grateful for the wonder of Your life, the power of Your sacrifice, and the glory of Your resurrection. We are attracted to You because You embrace, comfort, and guide us. Help us to encourage others around us to do the same, by presenting to them the grace of Your gospel. In Your precious name, we pray. Amen.