I heard a preacher recently deliver a message that implied there were four things in life that really mattered: Jesus, Eternity, Truth and Love. I was left wondering how that seemingly simple message could be expounded upon. How could it go from milk to meat? I wondered. I’m no preacher, and I could go on about my doctrinal position therein but I have made it my motto not to debate those things irrelevant to salvation. That said, I do want to discuss, hopefully on a deeper level, the import of those previously mentioned four things.
Jesus is of the utmost value and significance in this life and yet people really don’t want Him. They are better equipped in their flesh to only want what they believe He will do for them. Unfortunately, the church is at fault here because we’ve done a wonderful job of convincing people that they can, “repeat after me,” a prayer and receive redemption from Hell, forgiveness of sins and life more abundantly. We neglect to inform them that Jesus wants friends and siblings who follow Him, who take up their crosses, who die to themselves in utter humility, who obey Him, abide in His Word, and live set apart lives. No, we don’t tell them about the sacrifice they will need to make for this “free” gift.
Jesus is of the utmost value and significance. He willingly shouldered all of our heinous decisions, immorality and utter, blatant disregard for His holiness simply because He loved us enough to want to spend His created eternity with us. Yet, we live as much like the world as the world does. Oh perhaps we say fewer curse words, maybe we don’t get drunk, or cheat on spouses. Notice that I say, maybe. I’m not saying that Christians are perfect, far from it for sure, but there should be some level of gratefulness and awe over salvation that would lead us to attempt to adhere to His example of holiness. When we buy into all the world’s belief systems of more is better, look out for number one, get while the getting’s good, we dispose of all that Christ stands for. Is He really of the utmost value and significance to us?
Eternity then, now that’s a deep thing to talk about. It always seems like it’s so far away and yet there are people in the midst of it right now. Some of them are celebrating in their eternal life with Jesus while others are enduring the eternal damnation that is separation from Him. They are enveloped in unquenchable fire where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Oh yeah, it’s for real and that Jesus that is of the utmost value and significance is the only way to avoid what we deserve for our sins. So, eternity, well, it’s definitely worthy of consideration. We are so focused on the here and now, or the not so distant future, with our 401k’s, retirement funds, the life insurances and pensions, that we don’t see our own eternally empty hands.
Eternity? Biblically there are some specific steps to earn the crowns, to win the race, to store up treasures in heaven where moth and rust won’t destroy and the thief cannot steal. We are here to produce fruit that will be evident in eternity. Yet so many of us are focused on the American Dream, our lavish homes (or desire to acquire such), and other utterly futile nonsense that we will be barren when He calls us home. Do we really want to approach the throne of the One who gave His all for us with empty hands? Seriously!? Here’s the problem with eternity-mindedness…we can’t have it if Jesus isn’t of the utmost value and significance in our lives. We can’t do those things that will bring the rewards, that will garner in the harvest, and catch the fish. Eternity? Yeah, that’s a deep thing to talk about.
Truth. Just let that word simmer in your mind. Be like Pilate and ask, “What is truth?” If you know your Bible even a little you’ll recall that Jesus is the truth, the life and the way. Yes, it will always go back to Jesus. Why? Because He’s it, the end all be all, the only answer to the only question. What is truth? This world is so full of lies because it is led and catered to by the father thereof. If we allow ourselves to be tainted by his trickery, his semantics and mottos, we will never understand truth. We will never fully surrender ourselves to truth. Guess what? Sometimes the truth hurts. There are things in the Bible that if you were to wholly grab onto them would utterly ostracize you from everyone you think is on your side, even your so-called spiritual siblings. Why? Because no one wants to live truth, not for real, no one wants to live Jesus. Why? Because it HURTS. Don’t you think the thorny crown was agonizing? Surely you realize that the nails were incomprehensibly excruciating!
Truth. Just let that word simmer in your mind. Really think about it. The truth is, our tongues are set on fire by hell and we’re better off refraining from much speech because an abundance of words is not without sin. The truth is, we’re to refrain from course joking and not even talk about the sins of the world. The truth is, we’re to judge those inside the church and God will be the judge of the world. The truth is, we’re to give to all who ask and never charge interest on a loan. That’ll hit most of us where it hurts. Yeah, friend, the Biblical truth is hardcore, it hurts and that’s why so many of us will play Pilate. We’ll ask the question and then leave before we get a response we might not like. Truth. Let it simmer.
Love is everybody’s favorite thing. We love pizza, our dogs, Audis and comic books. We love the way so and so sings, writes, draws. You name it, we love it. We especially love to quote the verse that says, “God is love.” However, that’s only a portion of the verse, just as many of the common Christian placations are. That verse is actually talking about loving others and knowing God. If you’re not loving, then you don’t know God because that’s who He is. The concept has been so radically misused it’s almost hard to even go there with people. We’re told to love our neighbors as ourselves. So, let’s just think on that momentarily. Do you intend to spend eternity in hell? Why would you let your neighbor? Love is sacrifice. It’s mercy, it’s forgiveness without recollection, and it’s tough. Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery enough to offer her mercy and a command, “Go and sin no more.” Most of us are only interested in the merciful side of His love.
Love is everybody’s favorite thing. It gets paired with acceptance and tolerance and then it becomes a complete and utter perversion, a lie of the enemy. The world throws that previously mentioned minute section of Scripture around as if those are the only words written in the Bible. What’s worse is people in our churches have come to believe this fallacy that “telling the truth in love,” is akin to placation, and empathetic pats on the back. It’s become this touchy feely nicety that is so not Jesus it’s absurd. Jesus didn’t use kid gloves with people. He flipped tables and called out the wolves in sheep’s clothing. He forgave, healed and called with directives. Where in Scripture do we see Jesus playing nice? If He had been then the world would have loved Him. But, He wasn’t of this world. We are most assuredly to tell the truth in love, in fact love and truth are of the same fabric. If Jesus is truth and God is love, you can’t have one without the other. Sure, we’re humans and sometimes our deliveries might lack tact, but truth cannot be presented without love and love is not present without truth. Period.
Jesus, eternity, truth and love are indeed four things that matter. How much do they matter to you? And what are you going to do about it when you finally come to terms with the fact they really haven’t mattered that much? Listen, friend, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for a reason. God doesn’t play, He doesn’t bend His own rules and He doesn’t accept excuses. You’re for Him, for real, or you’re deceived. Tozer writes, “I am going to say that God sifts out who cannot see in order to lead on by grace those who can see.” (The Crucified Life, p. 138). He that has ears let him hear.