E023 - Should Christians Always Be Nice? - Transcript

The Gospel Of Everything Podcast

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Listen to the episode here:  https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/should-christians-always-be-nice

Welcome to the Gospel of Everything podcast, where we consider everything in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am your host, Jon Davis. On this show, we do not obsess over the end of the world, but rather we are looking to see the glory of God show up in every area of our lives. We are not waiting to go down in glorious defeat, we are expecting to win. Well, all right. Welcome aboard. Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Gospel of Everything podcast. I am Jon Davis, your host, your talker in chief. It is my sincere desire that I would be able to share something with you that would change your life, that would put you on a path of having your life changed, and then from there put you on a path that will make you a change agent in the world. But here on the Gospel of Everything podcast, you and I and all of us together consider everything in life, everything in society in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here on this podcast, I am looking to inspire, connect with and mobilize you, my fellow victorious kingdom ambassador. Reminder for you, what is a victorious kingdom ambassador?

It is someone who is not looking obsessively for the end of the world, but is rather looking to bring God's kingdom more and more into the world, both now and in forever. It is someone who is not looking to change the world by humanistic manmade ideas and methods, but rather by embracing God's revelation and everything that flows out of that revelation. A victorious kingdom ambassador is someone who is not looking to be saved by another political government oriented scheme, but rather is looking to be saved by Jesus, not only for eternal salvation, but also in order to live out Jesus in every area of life. Please take a moment to pause and subscribe to this podcast in your favorite app before moving on, because I don't want you to ever miss even one little tidbit of goodness. Today I was praying about, thinking about and contemplating what to talk about in this episode. I'm going to tell you in story format how I came to the topic, but I was listening to Matt Walsh. I don't know if you've heard of Matt Walsh. He's a political commentator and a life commentator. I think he's a Catholic guy.

He's on Ben Shapiro's network, the Daily Wire. I remember hearing about him before that, though. He used to have a blog. I didn't read it a lot, but I did occasionally run into him and what he was saying. I was listening to something. Somebody just sent it to me and I was listening to it. It was him responding to some criticisms from other Christians, conservative Christians that he apparently identifies with that group, who were basically saying, You're being too mean. I have listened to him. He can be very direct, confrontational. My natural inclination is I don't like conflict. I don't like being confrontational. I've learned to do it. I've learned the hard way in life that sometimes if you are not directly confronting things, you'll pay for it later. So if you've met me and you think I'm confrontational, that just means I'm living out some painful lessons I've learned. In actuality, I would prefer cozy love all around. But I listened to what he said in response to his critics. I haven't heard the critics yet, so I'm not taking any side. This has nothing to do with me, basically. But he basically said the cause, the issues that he's addressing are so important, and the importance of winning in the culture is so important that it's worth even being mean or not necessarily being nice.

This is one of the questions I want to talk about today in this episode. Is it God's will for Christians to always be nice? It seems to me that Christians are often falling all over each other, trying to escape being big meanies or being associated with big meanies. But is that the way God looks at things? Is that the way God works through us? Are we supposed to always be nice? Is that even the priority? How does being nice balance out with telling the truth? We used to have a speaker when I was in youth with a mission. I was in youth with a mission for 15 years, and much of that time I was leading one of the programs called the Discipleship Training School. I had a speaker come regularly, and sometimes he upset people, especially at the beginning, because he didn't come in and coddle everyone with niceness. He yelled a lot, and he was pretty direct. He directly confronted sin and evil and wickedness. All the people who didn't like him should probably blame me because I asked him to teach on true and false repentance, so it's my fault. But I remember some people were really distressed by him, and the thing they brought to me It was never he's saying something false.

It was basically, and I'm putting this in my own words, but in essence it was, He's a big meanie. He's not nice. He's not gentle enough. He's not quiet enough. But is that what matters to God? Does that matter to God? How about Jesus himself? Was Jesus nice? I wrote it down like this. Was Jesus nice? Was Jesus always nice? Was Jesus even nice at all? I don't know if you have noticed this, but it seems to me like the version of Jesus in the popular culture is that he was always nice. Or if he was mean, he was only mean to religious people, or something like that. He was always nice. But I don't know. I think this may be intertwined. Our idea that Christians are supposed to always be nice may very well be intertwined with our idea that Jesus is always nice, or that God is always loving in a way that we understand as loving and we feel as loving. Now, I know God is always loving, but it's like we have our own ideas about what that is or what we think Jesus is or should be like. I have people tell me regularly what Jesus is like, and I'm like, I'm not sure I know where you're getting that.

Not from the Bible. Jesus was not always nice. I've often wondered if I was in this discipleship program that I was running, if I to say, You wicked and perverse generation, when will I be able to leave you? I'm tired of your lack of faith. I would have been a big meanie. So Jesus was compassionate. He healed people. He cast demons out of people. He showed people love that did not deserve love. He helped set people free. He taught the disciples how to love. So I'm assuming that even in the unspoken, he was an example of love. But if you look at what Jesus did and said, some of it was confrontational. Not all, but a lot of it was a confrontation against Israel and the state they were in. But even his own disciples, Get behind me, Satan, he said to Peter, Can you imagine saying that to someone in your Sunday school class? They say something and you say, Get behind me, Satan. You'd probably be labeled a big meanie and not asked to teach that Sunday school class anymore. But I don't see Jesus as having always been nice. Is God always nice?

Is the fact that God loves us mean He's always nice? Does it mean we'll always understand Him as as nice or as loving in the way we think of as loving. I was literally sitting out in my van praying about this episode and the words that I had chosen and the focus that I've chosen. I felt like God stood my soul to show me that what is really behind this issue of should Christians always be nice is Jesus always nice. I'm going to just cut straight into what I really want you to get out of this episode. I'm going to do it by starting with this question. Do you have a hunger deep inside your soul to know God as he actually is in reality? Do you want to share the message of God, the gospel, the teachings of the Word as it actually is? Or do you want to teach it in a way that is acceptable to yourself and to other human beings and to contemporary culture? Do we need to apologize for all of those Christians out there who are big meanies and show that we are the nice ones? Do we need to try and convince people that God would never hurt them?

He is just a loving mush. No matter what, he's right there for you. Sounds true. I think it is true that no matter what, he's right there for you. But I'm not sure, even in my own life and my struggle with him, that he's always right there for me in exactly precisely the way I think he should be, which is being nice to me. It seems that sometimes he allows me to struggle a lot. It seems that sometimes he's working on me and he's trying to allow me to work through things until I see them from his perspective. Sometimes it seems like maybe he just wants me to trust him, even though I don't understand. An observation I want to make from my real life and people I actually have known and talked to and still know is that whenever someone seeks God with a predetermined issue, they need God to not be something, or to be something, or to be a certain way. When someone starts that way in seeking God, they tend to find the God that they're looking for. But I'm not sure they're finding the real God as he actually is. People can embrace an idea about God and who he is and what he is like that is not consistent with reality.

Me, I would actually rather struggle greatly with some perception that I have about God and not understand it. I'm not saying I like that, but I would rather struggle greatly than embrace a fake Santa Claus God that I made up in my mind. I say crazy things to God when I'm praying. It's like, God, I wish you were like this. I hope you're like this. Are you like that? I've always been told whatever it is, whatever it is about God that I've always been told. Now, to balance that out, it could be that you and I... In fact, it probably is, that you and I have ideas about God that are wrong and are causing us harm. They're horrible judgmental ideas about God, making him to be horrible in ways that he is not. Those things need to be corrected. I am not saying we don't want to pursue an accurate understanding of who God is and really know him. What I'm saying is the starting point is not what I think he should be, or what I feel he should be, or what I wish he would be, or that which is acceptable to me, or that which is acceptable to the culture as a whole.

This is not where we start. We start by seeking him with a heart that says, Who are you really, God? This could mean things like God says that He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love towards thousands, forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. But he does not leave the guilty unpunished. But but visits the sins of the fathers unto the children, even to the third and fourth generation. I got that right out of Exodus when Moses said to God, Show me your glory. God went before Moses after putting Moses in the cleft of the rock. And he said his name, YAWI, YAWI, however you are supposed to say that. And then he said those words that I just said, although surprise, he didn't say them in English. There's a way you can learn about who God is. He said he is these things. Now, what if I am experiencing, having an experience in my life that does not feel like he is gracious or slow to anger or abounding in love? What if it doesn't feel that way to me? What if I'm like, God, I don't understand why you did this in my life this way, or why you did this in someone else's life this way, and I decide to interpret that as I'm going to decide that God is the way I want him to be.

Now, the way I would take that is if I see something revealed in the scripture where God seems hard, or really into justice and rightness, or he really seems to hate sin. He seems to really hate sin. Look at what he's willing to do and allow and cause because of his hatred against sin. And sometimes there's still sin in me. I have access to the forgiveness of Jesus, but my justification has been complete, but my sanctification is in process. Is it possible that the God who loves me like a father and who sent his son Jesus to die for my sins could be angry at me, or could allow me to suffer, or allow me to go through consequences? I don't like that. What I want God loves me to mean is that he's going to deal with my consequences. He's going to take them away. He's going to make sure everything is all right. But Jesus said things like, In this world, you will have tribulation. I don't know there's any way around as a Christian not And if you want to really pursue him for who he really is and really become close to him, it's like you have to be willing to embrace that sometimes there may be some mystery.

You might not understand what he's doing. So if you want to know who he really is, you have to look at his word. And I submit that you have to go to him with a heart attitude of, Show me who you really are. And even if I don't like it, I feel weird even saying that. I feel bad or how dare I not like something about God. If I don't like something about God, it could be that I'm misunderstanding the word or whatever, but it's possible that there's something about who he really is that I don't prefer. Because what I really prefer in my natural person is for me to be Lord of the Universe and for me to have everything I want and need in the way I want and need it to make me happy right now. This is a bad way to pursue God, because God does not seem to be that committed to my momentary happiness. He seems to be much more committed to my purification and long term happiness. I am committed to believing what God says about himself and what he reveals about himself, even when I struggle with it.

I hope you can see the difference between the need to have our idea about God and who he is, corrected by his word, by his revelation, versus seeking God in order that he would be who I want him to be or who the culture wants him to be. I am concerned that even sharing this with you, that you will embrace some awful thing about God which isn't true. You'll be affected by something that isn't even true. And you'll go away saying, Oh God's awful, and I have to embrace that because Jon Davis told me I had to embrace that. But that is not what I'm saying. You may need to struggle with it, though. What I'm saying is there may be times where God doesn't do what you think he should do in the way you think he should do it. There may be things about reality that your imperfect, finite perception cannot grasp. There are things about reality that we have to let God bear. He's the only one big enough. He's the only one with a broad enough scope of knowledge and wisdom and perspective to embrace everything. We are finite and we are down here and we are reliant on his revelation.

Now, one topic that really often causes people great distress is the concept of hell. Now, I'm not really going to focus on hell today and teaching what the Bible says about that, but I'll use it as an example that if God sends people to hell for all eternity to suffer for their sins, if they won't repent, if they won't believe in Jesus, that's just and good. So rather than pursue it like God's not a big meaning, he would never do that. What you have to do is pursue your Bible study and your seeking of God with who is he really? What is he really like? What would he do? And then when you see what he is really like and what he would really do or allow or whatever, you step back and say, Well, my flesh doesn't like that. I don't like that. But who are you going to believe? Yourself or God? So I hope I'm not distracting you by bringing up a big topic like hell. I'm just using that as an example. If you pursue God with, I don't like that, you will be able to find a version of God that does not have the things you don't like.

But whatever is true about that topic, God is good. God is love. He is all the things he said he is, including just. I've heard people jump through many hoops trying to explain to others. It's like we approach evangelism and sharing the love of God with others through a I need to find a way to make this acceptable to them. That isn't going to work. In the end, you will produce maybe nothing, or you might produce a false convert who will not last when the trial comes. They need something deeper. They need something in them that is seeking God in a deeper way that goes beyond what is acceptable to them. At some point, in order to be a convert, your heart has been switched. You have been removed from death to life by faith in Jesus. It might happen at your conversion or somewhere in the process, you're going to struggle with, God is God. Jesus is Lord. He is the King. He is in charge. He is the authority. He is always right. And sometimes I don't get it. Sometimes my heart might be addressed. So the goal here is to make God the defining of who He is and what He is like, not our own preferences or the acceptability to the culture.

And like I said, this could mean accepting something that you don't fully understand. You have to have a commitment that God is capable of revealing himself and that he is who he says he is and does what he says he does, regardless of whether or not you or I like it or understand it. A pre commitment that God must meet your expectations is a way of cutting yourself off from him. It's a way of cutting yourself off from knowing him as he really is. My commitment to wanting to know God as who he really is and as he reveals himself to be is so strong that I will believe that he is good even if there is something that to me doesn't feel good or doesn't look good. I am talking about this from a heart perspective here more than from a dry intellectual perspective, because sometimes I have a really good intellectual answer. I have a correct answer from the Bible or from whatever that will explain something about God that may seem hard. But in my heart, sometimes, whatever that even is, whatever heart even is, the inner man and your inner soul, sometimes even though my mind is saying God is just, God is love, God is good, God is right, my heart is saying, but I don't like it.

I don't like what I see. My heart feels deeply and struggles deeply with something I'm experiencing or something I see somebody else experiencing. Why isn't God answering my prayer? Why isn't God reviving America as much as I think He should? Why isn't He helping me overcome my sins as much as I think He should? I have intellectual answers that may explain those, but in my heart, I struggle. In my heart I wrestle, and I have to work it through. Sometimes I come to a conclusion. Sometimes God helps me to see something. Sometimes I have an understanding, and then later I can't remember it, and I go back to the same place of struggle. But really, what I want to impart to you today, and there's two applications to it, is I want you to commit to finding out who God really is is as he has revealed himself, not as whatever you like. And it could be that you won't like it, and you'll later find out that it's better the way he really is. Or you might find out that you got it wrong and you had a horrible judgment against God that wasn't even right anyways.

But the outworking of this is when you go out into the world to interact with those people who don't know Jesus, if you understand that you are representing the God who is, not the God who you think he should be, or who those people you're talking to think he should be, this might reflect whether or not what you say and do will be perceived as nice. When I was listening to Matt Walsh and I heard what he said, there's a part of me that was recoiling with, Oh, he's being so harsh on the bad people. I honestly don't know the answer to that, but there's a part of me that's like, Maybe he's right. Maybe he's got it right on that particular issue that he was talking about. I'm not saying everything because I don't know everything he says. But being right in the area of, do you want to know God as he really is, or do you want to pretend he's what you want him to be, is going to be underlying how you represent him. Because if you want to lead sinners to Christ, if you want to lead people to Jesus at some point, they're going to have to face that God is God and they are not.

God is good and they are not. God is just and they are not. God is right and they are wrong. Otherwise, they will either be a false convert, or they will basically be spiritually retarded, and they will still be spiritual babies 40 years later. They'll never grow. So you have to wrestle with the things of who God is, and you have to be committed to letting Him reveal who He is, and be committed for Him to be who He actually is. So I hope you find that useful. I hope it increases your desire to know Him. I hope it puts a little bit of salt on your tongue and makes you thirsty to drink deep of who God is. I hope it sends you towards the right foundation in your pursuit of God so that you won't be a smushy, smoshy jellyfish Christian who has no spine and nothing true to say to the world. If we really want the world to know that God is love, one of those things about him is that he hates sin and he is confronting sin. In all the niceness that Jesus showed to the lost in the Bible, people often forget that he often said, Go and sin no more.

More. He didn't say, You're fine. Everything's fine. So was he compassionate? Was he loving? Yes. But he didn't tell him everything was fine. They also were confronted and understood that God is holy and God is right. I very much am grateful to you for taking the time to listen to this episode. If you haven't already, please take a moment to subscribe to this podcast. I don't want you to miss any episodes. You know what? You can also go to my website, gospelofeverything. Com, and subscribe to get notified by email. Ninety eight % of the time, I remember to send out an email. There's a couple of times I forgot, so you can go look at the website and look for those times. But subscribe in your favorite app. There's some example apps at gospelofeverything. Com podcast. There's some you can click on some of those buttons and it'll take you to different resources. If you would like to give me feedback, I would love to hear your feedback. I've been told feedback for podcasts is pretty rare, but I would love to hear feedback from you. If you would like to give me feedback about this episode or about the podcast in general or something that's on your heart, go to gospelofeverything.

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Listen to the episode here:  https://gospelofeverything.com/podcast/should-christians-always-be-nice