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Why bother with Jesus

Here's the audio of the Jazz evening I wrote about recently.  It's a shortened version of this older talk with a couple of additions.

I spent some time with Rico Tice going over the older version of my talk.  It was the best feedback session ever.  Brutal.  But good.  The biggest thing I'll take away is Rico saying "You can't just hold up Christ the Rock, you've got to show how the world is sinking sand."  It immediately struck home with me.  That's definitely a weakness in my preaching.

I've never really "preached against the culture" because I never want to come across as a Daily Mail reading nay-sayer.  But the world is sinking sand, and prophets are meant to point that out.  "Go out and get them" said Rico.  "Don't just let down the net, go out and get them.  Get your hook into them and reel them in."

So now, instead of just saying, "Follow Jesus, He's great" I also say - "And right now you're already following something.  But it won't get you through death will it?"

Instead of just saying "Jesus brings joy" I also say "The world doesn't really do joy does it?  Distraction, Entertainment, Comfort, but not Joy."

I've always been comfortable "painting Jesus in attractive colours".  I hope I get better at that too.  But I also need to show them the bankruptcy of the alternative.  Not just Song of Songs.  Ecclesiastes too.

0 thoughts on “Why bother with Jesus

  1. theoldadam

    Law/Gospel.

    There it is again.

    We have a little 'death' problem. And Christ Jesus wants us to live forever...in Him.

    Thanks, Glen. Nice work, yet once again.

  2. Sunil Glen

    Great post Glen, thanks for passing on Tice's wisdom and the preaching both sides stuff. I guess it's just what Christ himself did too, eh? (i.e. John 14:6, 3:17 etc.) It's really encouraging seeing preachers being encouraged and seeing that effect their preaching.

  3. Dev

    isn't it more that preaching Jesus against the background of the world shows the world for what it is - rather than just preaching the world on its own insufficiencies?

    so - gospel, gospel, gospel (if need be law), then gospel, gospel, gospel

    gospel by definition implies a current state of bad news?

  4. codepoke

    Hey Glen,

    I'm going to hit you with my question of last week. Again. I agree with Rico on both points. You're presenting Christ beautifully, and people are used to hearing beautiful presentations of great ideas these days. Searchers are constantly hearing how wonderful Ghandi was or some Sufi mystic or the Egyptian wisdom religions. They're so used to hearing beautiful things, they've learned to take any degree of beauty with a massive grain of salt - the more beautiful, the more salt.

    You present the Rock, and they're pretty sure it works for some people. They're 100% sure it turns other people into royal jerks, but it works for some so they wait on it but they're not able to give their hearts.

    Most people today are willing to accept there’s a “Who” out there, but they don’t trust Him. If He has a plan, it’s to glorify Himself and has nothing to do with us. He either moves us around like pawns in some unnecessarily sick game, or He’s harmlessly sweet. They see the whole crucifixion thing as so much grandstanding, and don’t trust His sacrifice any more than any other politician’s in this day and age.

    Maybe they're so used to being led by Narcissists, they're looking for proof God isn't just another one. And one sacrifice, no matter how huge, is not proof enough. I think if you can prove God is the opposite of a narcissist in the face of His capricious dealings over the centuries, you'll have a rounded message on your hands.

  5. Dave Bish

    Still some difference here between a common 'bad news... good news..' model though thankfully. Tastes different to say 'good news about Jesus... here's why you're not receiving it... good news about Jesus...'

    I guess Tim Keller would confront culture and then turn to console the culture as his bridge back to talking about Jesus '... what you're longing for is... which is what Jesus has/is/brings...'

  6. woldeyesus

    It is sufficient to hold up the real Christ as knowable in his death on the cross (if one knows him).

    Taking care of the sinking sand actually preempts the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

  7. Glen

    Thanks all.

    Code, I like your anti-Cosmic-Narcisist point very much. Do you think that it helps when the preacher contrasts Jesus with the pompous and the petty gods out in the world?

    Dev, yes I don't think it's a case of showing "internal inconsistencies" in the world. The world is judged from the viewpoint of the Word, not from the viewpoint of whether it works. But once we have laid out the wonder of the kingdom we can then talk about how the pagans run after stupid things. In fact it's probably a good idea to do so because the comparison shows up the nature of the kingdom even more. Do you think?

  8. codepoke

    So far the best answer that comes to mind is the sins of God's heroes. I'm thinking a cosmic narcissist wouldn't allow David to marry so many women, Moses to strike the Rock, or Peter to eat separately from Gentiles. He'd have to tweak the narrative somehow to make sure He came off looking a little better.

    Jesus is not afraid of looking bad. He really loves, and love has no need to "spin" reality.

  9. Dev

    yes i think by shining Light in the darkness, objective Jesus shines into the subjective darkness - and shows it for what it is
    subjective wallowing in darkness is very speculative and ultimately based on the preacher's personal experience?

  10. Dave K

    I give thanks for Rico Tice because he is such a gift to the church.

    Glen, you're a good gift as well. Thank you for sharing what you learnt.

    The Bible is always contrasting God with other gods (even if those gods are other nations, self-justification, etc) and through the contrasts showing how Christ is the rock but they are sinking sand. Helpful stuff.

  11. Alissa James

    Again beautiful post....Really very meaningful and spiritual.We really need to look beyond of all our beliefs and try to understand the true meaning of our beliefs.I just really love the sentence that "Instead of just saying “Jesus brings joy” I also say “The world doesn’t really do joy does it? " What a true saying...we are really need of such type of thinking to spread the love in the entire world. Thank you again for sharing such a nice post with us

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