Luke 6:26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.
They are called “Blessings and Woes” in the Gospel of Luke. It’s the Good Doctor’s equivalent of what Matthew wrote in his Gospel when Jesus preached the sermon on the hillside. Most people know the Matthew 5 version; very few have ever read or compared Luke’s version of the same message. Church people tend to want things to be bright and positive, cheerful and light – Matthew supplies that in his record of the Beatitudes. Luke, however, who was a physician, was perhaps more used to thinking in terms of remedies and consequences. His version of what Christ said reads more like a spiritual health warning from God.
I often struggle with this in the ministry God has given me. There’s a fine balance between preaching, teaching, and writing what people want to hear or read, as opposed to what God wants us to understand. Life is not a game, it’s a gift. Faith is not a spiritual convenience, it’s a constant challenge. The symbol of what we believe in is not a smiley face, it’s a cross. In my humble opinion, Christianity is the hardest faith that anyone can seek to live by; it meddles with our lifestyle choices and interferes with our ideals. Sometimes, as Christians, we have to assertively push back against society and our own community because the wrong ideas and sinful choices are being promoted.
C. S. Lewis in his wonderful book “Mere Christianity” wrote this: ‘A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world — and might even be more difficult to save.’ Luke’s version of the Beatitudes reminds us that all of our choices have both positive and negative eternal consequences. If we take salvation for granted, we will never be saved. If we live by our own personal creed, as opposed to Christ’s challenging message, we will never see God.
Questions for personal reflection
Where does my faith challenge me most? Do I surrender to Christ’s demands or the world’s ways?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, being a Christian is never easy and we each have crosses to bear. We sometimes think sin is just ‘being naughty’ and faith is just ‘being nice.’ Within our hearts and minds we know that there’s more to life than just being superficial. Teach us the serious differences between sin and salvation, deliverance and damnation, blessings and woes. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to email@example.com.
Today’s image is John’s latest waterfall drawing. It’s called “Heavenly Falls.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8020/7593826054_57a16df2f2_b.jpg