Summary: The heart of the gospel message is love but the bulk of the gospel message contains instructions for serving Christ.
JESUS – An Example of Tough Love
“Living in this house is like living in hell,” screamed the young girl as she stamped her feet on the way upstairs to her room. The mother stood looking at her daughter, a hint of tears forming in her eyes. She wanted to run up the stairs and hug her daughter but she knew the timing would be wrong. Her daughter had openly refused to clear off the table and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher: she had to be disciplined. Still, her daughter’s earlier acquisition that her mother did not love her had hit a raw nerve. The mother had come very close to shouting at her daughter: “who was it that always stood beside you in tough times; who was it that cheered the loudest during your soccer games; who was it that constantly encouraged you when you felt like you were failing; or just who do you think it is that constantly keeps you in her prayers?” But she had choked back the harsh questions. Instead, she said a silent prayer that her daughter would eventually come to understand her mother loves her very much. As she watched her daughter angrily slam her bedroom door, the mother wondered if perhaps her daughter wasn’t just a little bit spoiled: perhaps by too much loving attention from her parents. To be honest, her daughter had reached that age where she seemed to think that her parents only existed to serve her wants. The young teenage girl had lost sight of the fact she was part of a family and that she was expected to contribute to the family as well as take from the family. A smile began to creep across the woman’s face as she reflected on her daughter’s attitude: “almost reminds me of me during my last prayer!” As she turned and walked back to the dining room the woman thought: “do I really act like a spoiled child in my expectations from God?” The woman sat down at the table and stared at the dirty dishes, she reflected on her Christian attitude: “its true, sometimes we Christians get to the point where we think God exists for the sole purpose of filling our lives with health, wealth and happiness.”
Is the gospel message only about God’s love for us?
Most of us in Christendom never reach the point where we get tired of hearing about the positive and loving teachings of Jesus. After all, God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only begotten Son that we might have the opportunity for eternal life. (John 3:16) Jesus, Himself, reinforced the importance of love by telling us the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love our fellow man. (Matthew 22:36-40) There is no way we can minimize the importance of God’s love for us. After all, and beyond any shadow of a doubt, the combined teachings of Jesus all point to just one thing: loving forgiveness is God’s greatest gift to mankind. For by grace are we saved through faith, it is God’s gift, there is nothing man can possibly do to deserve this loving gift. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Paul, who Peter accused of being a hard teacher, went so far as to teach that our Christian works amount to nothing unless they are done in love. (1st Corinthians 13:1-13) Now think about this for a moment; how could a Christian ever get tired of hearing warm and fuzzy sermons?