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You can’t find comfort by looking for it

In our day and age, it’s far more inviting to talk with people about the positive benefits of following Jesus rather than the negative consequences of rejecting Him. We much prefer the good news to the bad, comfort to discomfort, and mercy to judgment.


Standing on a street corner with a bullhorn shouting to people that they are going to hell unless they turn to Christ tends not to bode well. Somewhere along the line, some Christians have missed the part about how our speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6), and how we are to respond with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).


My personality fits better with the gentle approach, but the older I get the more I’m learning that gentleness doesn’t have to mean “soft.” I can gently and respectfully talk with someone about Jesus, but that doesn’t mean I have to shy away from presenting truth. In fact, one of the most respectful things I could possibly do is talk with someone about the consequences of our sin and how we don’t want a Christ-less eternity.


The problem is that not everybody shares the same concept of truth. If someone is a secular humanist, who doesn’t believe in a universal Moral Law or a personal Power behind that Moral Law, he is not losing sleep over whether or not he has broken the law and put himself at odds with that personal Power. It’s hard to convince someone she needs saving when she doesn’t consider herself needing to be saved. If you don’t believe you’re sick, you’re not going to listen to the doctor. If you don’t believe the bad news, you’re not going to search for the Good News.


Herein lies the reason the Good News is called good. It is good, because it gives us a way out of the bad. The bad news is bad, because it takes us away from the good. The truth of the matter is that this personal Power behind the universal Moral Law is, what C. S. Lewis called, the “Something Behind,” the God who created and ordered the universe and all that is within. He created us to be like Him, meaning we can think, respond, love, and choose—or not choose—to be in a relationship with Him. In His ordering of the universe, He established a right path leading to goodness, but we can also create our own path that eventually leads to pain and death. The choice is ours.


When we realize that we have chosen the wrong path (and all of us have, Romans 3:23), then we begin to understand the hope of the Gospel (Good News of Jesus). Jesus met the demands of the Moral Law, for He never strayed off the path that leads to goodness. He is God in the flesh who saves us from the consequences of our own path, which is eternal separation from God. In other words, not until we understand the bad news, that we have sinned and the price is death (Romans 6:23), will we be open to receiving the Good News that “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring [us] to God” (1 Peter 3:18).


If you stop to think about it, the claims of Christianity are quite terrifying and comforting all at the same time. When we face the brutal fact that we are sinners and our position is wholly desperate, it is terrifying to think of the eternal consequences for our wrongdoing. But there is also great comfort in knowing we have a loving, personal God who has provided the way out through Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).


The Christian message does not begin in comfort; it begins in dismay, and we won’t be able to receive God’s comfort until we face our dismay. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair” (Mere Christianity, 25).


My prayer is that you will look for truth more than comfort and find your comfort in the truth. God is our ultimate comfort, but He can also be the supreme terror. Which of those you receive is entirely up to you. I suggest you choose wisely.

Why can’t we stop and smell the roses?

This morning I went for a light jog while my wife rode her bike (the kind you pedal). Beauty was all around us from the redbuds, dogwoods, apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, hyacinth, allium, and even more than I have room to mention here. The sun was rising in a cloudless sky with a coolness in the air. It was about as picture-perfect as they come.


So, what was I talking with my wife about in the midst of the beauty? Problems. Meetings. Hectic schedules. “How are we going to get Anna to this event, and turn around and pick up Luke? Don’t forget we’re supposed to meet so-and-so for supper, and then we have to stop by and see so-and-so. Tomorrow I’ll take the weed eater to the repair shop, and then I’ll stop at Menard’s and get a transformer for the lights, and then, and then, and then.”


Do you know what this is called? Life. The issue is not that we all have things to do and people to see. The issue is: Why can’t we stop and smell the roses? Why is it that when I’m surrounded by beauty during an early morning jog, I’m not enjoying it (the beauty, not the jog)? I don’t know about you, but I tend to miss the moment. My modus operandi is that I’m either looking back and wishing I would have done things differently, or I’m looking ahead and dreading what is to come.


This is what I call “present-time dementia.” We forget the present moment in our overactive memory recall or in our dread of the future. We can’t enjoy the beauty of spring, because we have too many memories of the recent hard winter, or because we have too many fears of a potentially dry summer yet to come.


It’s time to give the past and the future a break. It’s time to live in present time. When we fail to do this, we fail to be refreshed, renewed and reborn. When we dwell in the past or fear the future, we’re losing energy to live fully in the moment.


Yes, we can and should learn from the past. Yes, we can and should plan for the future. But we live in the present, which is the only time-currency we can truly spend. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). We should never fail to receive today what we can no longer gain from the past nor be promised for the future.


I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve failed to receive a blessing of conversation with one of my children, because I’ve been dwelling on some past issue or dreading some future meeting. It’s hard to converse in the moment when your mind is conversing with the past or rehearsing for the future.


Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself” (Matthew 6:34). The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6), which includes our past, present or future. Concerning our past mistakes, God says, “And I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12). If God can forget, shouldn’t we? Even if we fail to forget, do we still need to live there?


It’s time to move on. Don’t dwell in the past. Don’t dread the future. Receive God’s mercies that “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). Take a deep breath. Calm and quiet your soul (Psalm 131:2), and know that Jesus has got you covered. He’s forgiven your past (Ephesians 1:7). He’s preparing your future (John 14:2). And He’s walking with you today (Matthew 28:20).


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, TODAY, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

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