Today’s passage is a striking warning for all of us, and it needs some attention. Here are some of my thoughts on this:
• Jesus Christ, the most loving and compassionate man who ever walked the earth, the incarnation of Love himself, spoke quite frequently about Hell. In fact, he spoke more about Hell than about Heaven. The common word for hell, gehenna, was a trash-heap outside of Jerusalem at which garbage was dumped, set on fire, and perpetually burned. Twelve times this word is found in the N.T., and eleven of those times they come from Jesus’ lips. Why would he speak about this? Because he was loving and compassionate! If a doctor had a patient with cancer but withheld this fact from him, what would you think of that physician? What would be the loving and compassionate thing to do?
• We must imitate our Master in this. This doesn’t mean that every Christian is called to be a preacher, but we must all be honest with our friends and relatives who are without the Savior. We’re called to be messengers of the Good News, but the Good News has to start with the Bad News.
• We don’t need to be concerned if the way we’re following isn’t the most popular. In fact, the exact opposite is true. If the path we’re on seems to be the way that everyone else is using, that would be a cause for worry. Christ’s true followers have never been the majority, and the Good News will never be as popular as the latest religious fad. If the world calls us narrow-minded and bigoted, that’s probably a compliment. In fact, if someone called me narrow-minded, I would point them to this very passage and say “You’re absolutely right. I certainly am ‘narrow-minded’ because that’s what Jesus was talking about here.”
Again, the perfect balance is found in Eph. 4:15: Speak the truth in love. Most Christians find it easier to do one without the other. Some Christians are really good at speaking the truth, but they almost sound as if they're perfectly fine with people heading into destruction. I'd contend, however, that most believers (including myself) fall into the opposite trap. We're around lost people every day, and don’t want to speak the truth in fear of offending someone. Quite frankly, that’s not showing love either.
BTW, if you're reading this and wondering what I'm talking about, check out my summary of the Bible in one verse (which I've borrowed from others) here.
Lord Jesus, as I point the fingers to others, I find myself convicted by this as well. Am I showing real love to the lost people around me? Please give me the words to speak, and may they see your love reflected in everything I do and say.