Christ’s ministries on earth could be placed into two categories. The first could be described as His “pastoral ministry.” This ministry would be characterized by His feeding the five thousand, healing the sick, and reconciling men to God. Clearly this essential Christian ministry is what we usually think of when we picture Christ’s work on earth.
But there is another side of His ministry that is substantially less popular. That is Christ’s ministry of confronting evil. This is characterized by His rebuke of Peter, “Get thee behind me Satan!”, His scathing denouncement of the religious leaders of the day, and His assault on the money changers in the Temple. It is often hard for us to reconcile our perception of a loving Jesus with His statements like, “You brood of vipers!” or “You are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”
The earthly rewards of Christ’s pastoral ministry were manifested on Palm Sunday when a grateful throng shouted, “Hosanna to the King!” Christ’s ministry of confronting evil bore different fruit and that fruit matured the following Friday as a bloodthirsty crowd demanded something other than His coronation.
As I observe Christians today, I note that they engage almost exclusively in pastoral ministry and neglect the ministry of confronting evil. As I consider the earthly rewards of these two ministries, I cannot help wondering why one ministry is stressed and the other shunned. Is the motivation a wish for peace and popularity rather than an earnest desire to follow Him wherever He leads? I don’t believe His invitation to take up our cross and follow Him was only to a ministry leading to riding a donkey on palm branches through a cheering crowd. Christians desperately need to take up the offense of the Gospel and accept the opposition it brings.
All Christians will be offensive. Either they will stand for righteousness and offend men or they will remain silent and offend God. Which will you choose?
To Be Loving . . .
Christians have been seduced by a deadly heresy: “If you are loving, people will love you. If people don’t love you, you must change your behavior because their love for you demonstrates your love for them.”
The truth is far less self-serving. “If you are loving the way Christ was loving you will be treated the way Christ was treated. If you are not being treated the way Christ was treated, particularly if you are totally unwilling to endure the hatred and opposition he endured, you lack the loving heart of Christ.”