Sometimes, the sweet old lady at the door with the apple really wants you dead. Her perfectly red, delicious-looking piece of fruit seems to give no sign of the poison within. But just one bite, and we know what happens next.
Sometimes, it’s actually a Judas kiss making your heart flutter–hatred masquerading as love, an enemy disguised as a trusted friend.
Sometimes, that “Chicken Soup for the Soul” concoction of words meant to “encourage” and “uplift” you is really a recipe for spiritual disaster.
But how do we know? If we can’t trust our feelings, what do we have left to go on?
One thing we must never forget: we’re not the helpless victims of our desires. Our hearts may be strutting around like kings, but they have no right to the throne. We must bow them to Christ. We must lead our straying hearts to Him.
KISSES THAT KILL
The Pied Pipers play their pretty notes, the Sirens sing their tempting songs–but all they want is to watch us drown:
Beware the teachers who promise that Jesus the Genie will give us whatever we want, that he’s Santa Clause 2.0, now just donate X amount of money, sign a card, make our church big and pay for my fancy house and comfortable life. Oh, and please, don’t read the Scriptures on your own. You’re not smart enough for that. Just trust whatever we say…
Beware the tailors who ask, “What would you like the Bible to say?” The ear-ticklers who take the Word of God and add, subtract, replace it with their own words, and teach you to do the same. Who cunningly suggest that surely the Bible isn’t enough, that we need private “whispers” that just so happen to line up with our own thoughts instead of the Lord’s.
Beware the candy-sellers, sweet and sticky, flattering with their tongues, ensuring you that you’re “enough” just as you are, that you don’t need those Christians who insist on “truth.” Who needs truth when we have love, the kind of love that may not be biblical but sure does feel good! They make a selfish profit from your demise.
HURTS THAT HEAL
So who is safe? Who can we believe and embrace, in this scary world filled with deceivers, wolves in sheep’s clothing–those who Jude calls mockers, waterless clouds, fruitless trees, raging waves, wandering stars?
Above all, we trust the Lord, who loves His people so sincerely and deeply that He’s willing to hurt us if it’s what we need to heal. He never enjoys our pain, but always prunes us as our Good Gardener, disciplines us as our Good Shepherd.
On our own we would grow wild and free, but as any farmer knows, a vine that isn’t snipped won’t bear valuable fruit.
Hired hands may be “laid-back,” but that’s because they let their sheep be attacked, wander away, fall off cliffs. The flock of Christ is comforted by His rod and staff, because we know He uses them only to protect us.
We can safely submit to the real Jesus of the Bible: not a genie, but our sovereign, humble King. He spoke “hard things” but mended sinful hearts. He did the hardest thing by dying on the cross–becoming sin to redeem sinners, suffering the just punishment we deserve to make us inheritors with Him of the heavenly kingdom.
And lastly, we can trust the faithful Christians who lay down their lives to love the way Christ loves. Who aren’t people-pleasers, but God-pleasers–willing to be ridiculed and even persecuted like their Master, to serve Him as He saves and sanctifies souls.
Conviction of sin stings. Confronting lies is unpopular. Pointing people to the unadulterated Bible can lead to rejection.
But it’s only the Truth that sets us free.
As long as we are lost sinners, we’ll never desire to obey God and accept what He says. Nothing can attract us to Him if there is no transformation within. No “seeker-friendly” message or fleshly appeal can do the impossible saving work only the Lord can do.
But if He decides to change our hearts and rescue our souls, His efforts will not fail. Our stubbornness is no match for the love He set on us before time began. We will embrace the Christ we once despised, and be thankful for the correction and wounds of our godly friends meant to make us whole.
Somehow, some way, we’ll even be grateful for the trials that lead to the triumphs of our faith…
Surprised by joy bursting through our pain, we’ll say along with Charles Spurgeon: “I’ve learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
Yes, the Rock can hurt. After all, He’s not a soft, easy mattress for sinners. Better–He’s the firm, forever foundation for the saints. And He is everything we want and need.