I like shopping at ALDI because it’s cheap. It’s cheap because it has knock-off brands. You know, the extremely un-clever names that sound almost like name brands: Blastic dill pickles. Many of their knock-off brands just don’t quite taste the same. Something’s a little off. Like Greta Van Fleet is the ALDI version of Led Zeppelin.
For some reason Christians like to set up churches and theologies like that. For some reason we like to water down the law and soften the gospel.
I have discovered from conversations with all sorts of people that no matter who they are, they end up being shocked by God’s words. In fact, it might be true, that if you are comfortable with how God speaks in the Scriptures you probably aren’t listening. As Mark Twain smartly concluded, “Some people are troubled by what they don’t understand in the Bible. I’m troubled by what I do understand.”
Some Christians always seem concerned that right and wrong is not preached enough. They think they love the law and the world would do better by abiding by it. They hold people up to high standards, maybe even themselves. They judge everyone around them and are either quite proud of themselves or stressed.
But while they like to talk about God’s wrath, they often don’t know the half of it. Jesus spoke to law loving Israelites in His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5). Humorously many see Jesus as giving us new laws to do. But if you listen to Him explain the Ten Commandments to His law loving audience, He tightens the screws. “If you call your brother “you fool” you are guilty of hellfire.” And don’t even listen to His thoughts on divorce. Jesus closes all the loopholes any clever rationalizations. If you don’t leave this sermon concerned about your salvation, you aren’t listening.
Yet equally so, those who despise Jesus’ Hell and brimstone, brag they love the Gospel. But by Gospel they often mean God’s niceness, which ironically doesn’t relieve any guilt. Only forgiveness does that. Or maybe the Gospel lover gets forgiveness but when they see it in practice they are shocked. No questions asked. No probationary period. The most extreme sins blotted out by the blood of Jesus. Don’t even tell them about forgiving someone 7 times 70. Sounds clever in the abstraction, but when someone hurts you 490 times?
The cross is shocking. The Gospel is a guillotine. It removes well-deserved guilt forever. And is forgotten.
Go to ALDI for your food. Go to a Church that preaches the law and gospel for the Bread of Life.