For example, are we supposed to be about building stadiums in which we can then congregate by the thousands? Jesus did attract thousands to follow Him around and listen to Him preach, but did He ask them to build him a monument in which they could all see Him better, or did He instead tell them: "Listen -- it's better for you to pull out your our eye than it is to look at a woman not your wife and have lust for her! It's better for you to cut off your hand than it would be to let your hand cause you to sin!"
Clearly, it's the latter that He did, isn't it? So was He telling people to cut off their hands and pluck out their eyes -- or was He underscoring the nature and the seriousness of sin?
I don't know if anyone is actually paying attention when I write this, but Christ died for our sins! Christ did. Not Bob, my neighbor and homeboy with whom I am chummy when the Razorbacks are playing; not Bill, the guy I work out with 3 times a week; not Lisa the lady in the cubical down the hall; not Richard the congressman; not Steve the billionaire; not Brad the movie star.
Christ. The one whom Isaiah saw on the throne of Heaven and was terrified by His glory; the one whom King David called "my Lord"; the one whom John said created all things, and without whom nothing that is made has been made.
Now, why do I bring that up in the context of this latest gossip-rag scandal which brings shame to the Gospel and to the church? I bring it up, dear reader, because anyone who understands that Christ died for our sins needs to do more about it than form a political action committee. He needs to do more about it than become rich and powerful -- because you know something? Christs did not die for our checkbooks. He didn't die for our amusement, or our pleasure.
Christ died for our sins. Pay attention here -- because what I'm saying is not that you will never sin anymore if you get this truth. You will see your sin clearly, and you will repent and confess, and you will mortify the deeds of the flesh -- but there's something far more substantial that will undergird all of this if you understand Christ died for our sins.
You will have a small morsel of humility. You will have some kind of self-awareness that, "Oh Father in Heaven! How can I work to make criminals out of men just like me when I have received far more mercy than I deserve, and Justice has passed over me?!"
I'm not going soft or woggly here, people: I'm asking you to think about what, exactly, a man can do that will allow him, on Sunday, to open the word of God and mouth those words, when on Saturday he has been living as if those words were only fashion or style or a means of employment.
If I may paraphrase Jonathan Edwards, now there is no question about it, this is like the days of John the Baptist -- that the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings doesn't have any good fruit can be cut down and tossed into the fire.
Therefore, let everyone that is out of Christ -- the pastors, and preachers, and politicians, and activists, and evangelists, and bloggers, and professors, and speakers, and cashiers, and anyone who does not live in God's mercy -- wake up now and run hard from what's coming. The wrath of Almighty God is now -- right now -- hanging over a great part of this country. Let every one fly out of the Sodom we have created for ourselves: "Go quickly and escape for your lives, and don't look back! escape to the mountain, or else you will be destroyed."
Spend the Lord's day in the Lord's house the Lord's people, and do your self a favor: seek the Gospel first. Seek reformation in your own life first, and when you have pulled all the lumber out of your own eye, you will then be an expert at the procedure and will be able to give some advice to someone else.