Jesus certainly did not seek to please people and make them feel good. He was not about trying to be nice all the time. It almost seems that he went out of his way to offend people, to divide the crowds, and to force people to make tough decisions.
The Christian gospel can be called many things, but it can NOT be called inclusive, soft and fuzzy. It is totally exclusive, hard-edged and clear. It makes sharp demands which warrant sharp responses. There is no mushy middle ground here.
That means Christians should be the same when presenting the gospel. We should make things clear, in black and white, and not equivocate. The demands of the gospel should be our demands. The ultimatum of the gospel should be our ultimatum. The urgency of the gospel should be our urgency. Jesus is our example here.
Simply reread the gospel accounts. Jesus certainly did not seek to please people and make them feel good. He was not about trying to be nice all the time. It almost seems that he went out of his way to offend people, to divide the crowds, and to force people to make tough decisions. Consider just some of the hard and no-nonsense words of Jesus:
Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Matthew 8:19-22 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 13:57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
Matthew 15:14 “Leave them; they [the Pharisees] are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
Matthew 19:21-23 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
Matthew 25:26-30 “You wicked, lazy servant!… throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Mark 6:3 “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Mark 7:6-8 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”
Mark 7:17-18 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked.
Mark 8:33 “He rebuked Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!’”
Luke 3:7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”
Luke 9:41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”