I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13).
There is no higher authority than Jesus. You would think that all Christians comprehend this and live by it. Alas, you would be wrong. While it is true that Jesus said many things that require a lot of prayer, study, and spirituality to grasp, He also said many things that are stark, apparent, and obvious in their meaning which do not require formal religious training to understand. It is precisely because they are easily understood that many choose to ignore them. But pleading ignorance on Judgment Day won’t be of any help. Keep in mind, Jesus knew this would be the case and warned: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
Here are ten things Jesus said that grate against our souls.
[B]ut if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:15).
One doesn’t need to attend seminary to understand that statement. There is no gray area there. It is an either/or assertion. You can teach this to a 5-year-old once you explain what a “trespass” is. Either you will forgive those who sin against you and be forgiven in the same way by God, or you won’t and He won’t. Simple. If you cannot or will not forgive those who have sinned against you it doesn’t matter what a great churchgoer you are, how much ecclesiastical authority has been granted to you, what a great personality you have, how well-spoken of you are by so many people, or how generous you are to everyone else. You forfeit God’s forgiveness of your own sins and therefore, eternal life. Period. No exceptions.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:14).
That’s not exactly the message being proclaimed in this day and age. You would be hard-pressed to find a mourners bench in any church in America today. Sermons are riddled with jokes and punch lines. Profound hymns of theological substance have been replaced with nonsensical “praise” and “worship” music designed to elicit emotional responses. Church campuses are built for comfort and fun. Eternal bliss is offered by merely accepting Jesus. One hears or sees very little in the way of repentance, the cross, humility, or self-denial. The cheap grace that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of in The Cost of Discipleship is thriving in much of western Christianity today. Whatever happened to the “tribulation” Jesus promised all believers (John 16:33), the guaranteed suffering of the godly (2 Timothy 3:12), or the inevitable “fiery trial” (1 Peter 4:12)? There is a reason Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) and it has little to do with sadness.
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Matthew 12:30).
There is no sideline or fence to sit on in this life. If you don’t choose to be “with” Jesus you have chosen to be “against” Him. That is the way He says He looks at it. And how do we know who is really with Him? Those who are gathering are with Him. That is critical. Remember the man who was given one “talent” who chose to bury it in the ground? (Matthew 25:14-30) It didn’t work out very well for him, did it? One is not really “with” Jesus if he/she has little to no interest in working in the fields that are ready to be harvested (John 4:35). There is little more to add. To be for Jesus is to be out there gathering His harvest with Him. Not paying someone else to do it for you.
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done (Matthew 16:27).
There are three things about this statement that are inescapable. First, the return of Jesus will be an indisputable cosmic event. The Father’s glory and the angels’ presence will not be hidden by the Son of Man (see Daniel 7:13-14). There will be enemies of God to be dealt with but there will be no atheists on that day. Second, not a single human being (living or dead) will be exempt from judgment. “[H]e will repay each person…” For some reason, many Christians think they will not have to stand before Christ in judgment. Wrong. Read 2 Corinthians 5:10. Paul says essentially the same thing but is even more stark and clear: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…” “[E]ach person.” “[A]ll.” You can’t be any clearer, can you? Third, what each person has done in life is what will be under scrutiny by Jesus. He didn’t say that He would repay each person according to what he/she believed in life. No, what each person has done. Obviously, that means if you haven’t done it you don’t believe it and everything we have done is an expression of what we believe. Now you know why Jesus said that if you have done something wrong you had better take care of it fast (Matthew 5:23-24). If you (we) don’t…He will.
How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! (Mark 10:23)
That caused as much consternation and confusion to those who heard those words spoken as it does to those who read them today: “And the disciples were amazed at his words.” Then, following an even more explicit clarification about a camel going through the eye of a needle “And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’” Granted, He didn’t say it was impossible. But who wants to attempt what Jesus said was almost impossible? Probably everyone who is reading this (including myself). That is the kind of allure wealth has. God’s kingdom is not of this world and those who ingratiate themselves to this world will find themselves on the outside looking in when it is time to “repay each person according to what he has done.” Those who try to rearrange the plain meaning of what Jesus said about riches to justify their wealth look as foolish as those who say Sodom and Gomorrah is not about the sin of homosexuality but is instead about the lack of hospitality. Good luck with trying to convince Him.
(Editor’s note: be on the lookout for Part 2 of 10 Things Jesus Said that Grate Against Our Souls)