Thursday, February 28, 2008
What is that smell?
When I first got into the ministry, I served a two-point charge. One church was in a town of 250 people and the other church was out in the country surrounded by farmland. The country church was built back in the late 1800's. It was a beautiful old white building with its own cemetery in the back yard. On the inside, it was all wooden floors and of course wooden pews. The acoustics were perfect as you did not even need a microphone to be heard. They had one of those real large Bible's dated from the late 1880's and when the church closed down, they gave it to me to keep! It was an older congregation with an average age of about 75 years. It only had a handful of people attending there since all of the farms were owned by one family.
Anyway, right across the road from the church was a mega-hog farm. I believe they had over 6000 hogs there. The man who put it in was a member of this church. His name was John. I decided one day to go visit him.
As I cut across the field, I noticed one of the pigs had a wooden leg. He looked friendly enough, but I had to wonder about that wooden leg.
I met John up at his front porch and said,
"Hey John, what's the deal with the pig with the wooden leg?"
"Oh, that's a very special pig, let me tell you about him."
"A couple of weeks ago, I was out plowing my field and my tractor over turned on top of me. I was pinned underneath and couldn't get out. I screamed and hollered and no one heard me. Except for that there pig. He came up to me and saw I was in trouble and ran back to the house a squealing as loud as he could till my wife looked out the door and saw me in trouble. That there pig saved my life!"
"Wow, John, that is truly amazing! Did the pig hurt himself running back to the house? Is that how he got that wooden leg?"
"oh no, that's not it. It was just a week later, I was down by the pond doing some fishing and I fell in. I can't swim a lick. I was flapping my arms and yelling and screaming and no one heard me. Except for that there pig. He came a running up to the pond and did a swan dive, actually it was a piggy dive, and he paddled and paddled until he got to me. He used his teeth to grab by collar and he pulled me safely to the edge of the land. He saved my life!"
"Wow, John, that pig is awesome! So did he hurt his leg diving into the pond? Is that how he got the wooden leg?"
"oh no, that's not it. Just two days ago, my wife and I were asleep upstairs when all of a sudden without warning, that pig comes a running up the steps. He breaks our door down and grabs me by my pant leg. He wanted me to follow him. I did. I looked out the door to see that our barn was on fire. So me and the pig ran out to the barn to save the animals out there. I chased the chickens out and the pig jumped up onto the horse and rode him out. We were able to save every animal in there. That pig saved their life and possibly our lives as well."
"I am flabbergasted John. I don't know what to say. Did the pig hurt himself jumping down from the horse. Is that how he got the wooden leg?"
oh no, that's not it."
"well John, how did the pig get the wooden leg?
"Oh a pig like that you don't want to eat all at once!"
There you have it. That was the type of joke I would start off every sermon with. I always either had people laughing through most of the sermon or just sighing because the joke was like this one! I had to make them smile. I wanted them to feel good when they came to church and I wanted them to want to come back next week! My sermons had no substance whatsoever! People could remember my jokes but could never remember my sermons and never remember what Scripture was read out of the Bible.
Now, there actually was a mega-hog farm right across the street from the church. And when the south winds would blow, the aroma was not too pleasant! In fact, it downright stunk! You literally had to hold your breath because it smelled so bad. If you have ever driven through farm land in the Midwest of the United States, you know what I am talking about, only magnify it by about 100!
One thing for sure, when I was preaching the feel good messages, and the "God loves you" messages, no one hated me. But now that I preach God's Law and the need to repent of sins along with the wonderful grace and mercy of God, I have been called a Pharisee, a non-Christian filled with hate. I have been called judgmental, I have been called many things. Have you ever noticed how Satan gets mad at those who follow Christ? But here is something I do know...
2 Corinthians 2:16-17
"To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? You see, we are not like those hucksters -- and there are many of them -- who preach just to make money."
The Law of God is a killer in the sense that it brings knowledge of sin. It acts as a ministry of death because no one can satisfy the demands of the law on his own and is therefore condemned.
You see, the gospel message brings eternal life and ultimate glorification to some, and to others, it is a stumbling stone of offense that brings eternal death!
v.15 says, For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
So, I preach God's Word. Regardless of what I am called, I will faithfully share the whole gospel message. Yes, Jesus died for our sins. But in the grand scheme of things, what does that mean to an unbeliever?
Why did he have to do it? It is nice to say "God loves you." But it is so powerful when you can give an illustration of the kind of love that was needed to be displayed for all humanity.
Because of our wretchedness, we are deserving of hell. Because even the slightest sin, is punishable by death and judgment. God does not want any of His to perish, so He had to provide a way for us to go to heaven and still dish out His Holy Justice on humanity. It was through His Son that the fine was paid.
Jesus was 100% God and also 100% man! He was spit on, laughed at and mocked. He was abused and tortured and finally crucified. His death was bloody and lonely as the world did not receive Him. Every time I lie, I can see myself being responsible for another hit from the hammer onto the nail. Every time I look with lust, I can hear the sound of the hammer hitting the nail. It is more than I can bear. I repent of my sins, because my Jesus died for me and I know that without repentance, I will perish. I have put my trust and faith completely in Him. I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of His forgiveness and I know I will not receive it unless I repent. So, I spend my days telling people to repent of their sins.
I know it will cause others to hate me. I count the cost every day!
I know it will cause others to mock me. I count it as joy to be persecuted for Christ's sake!
I know it will cause others to gossip about me. I do not care.
My only goal is to spread the Good News to the lost world. When I see someone living a lifestyle inconsistent with being a Christian, I will tell that person about the need to repent. Giving up our old way of living is hard to do. But we have to realize, we are either going to serve God with ALL of our heart, mind, soul and strength -- or not serve Him at all! You cannot serve two masters!
If someone has pointed out your sins and you still reject the idea of repenting of your sins, then I am sure the aroma you smell is one of stench as it is leading to death.
But, if you have been told about the Law of God and now realize the need to repent, you have just smelled the aroma of a new life in Christ and it leads to eternal life. And the smell of life is a sweet aroma!
Yes, God loves you. He proved it on the cross 2000 years ago! When will "YOU" die to self and start living for Him? Until you are obedient to God, don't bother saying you love Him.
John 14:15 says,
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
When you love God, you are obedient to His Word.
And what do we know about the Word?
In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh!
A BBQ sure does smell nice.
A mega-hog farm does not!
Which do you choose.
2 Corinthians 2:14
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us manifests the fragrance of His knowledge in every place!
You can hate me and say I stink!
God's Word will cause an aroma to you...
will it be a life-giving aroma, or a death and doom aroma?
Will you repent of your sins?