“Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.” — Luke 12:54-56 NLT
It is interesting to me that when Christ spoke to the crowd, He expected them to “discern” the present times. “Discern” means they were to examine and scrutinize the present conditions, events, and happenings and then interpret them according to the meaning of what God instructed from the Torah. For us, as present-day Christ followers, we are to understand what the Word of God says and integrate the Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments) with our righteous actions. Notice that, because they could not discern the person times, Christ calls the crowd fools or hypocrites. Christ was not only harsh with the Pharisees he aggressively challenged the general public!
I love Mrs. Beaver’s response to Lucy in The Lion Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis, when Lucy asks if Aslan is safe?
“Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Our Lord was always good but at times He was also rough, direct, or even blunt. He clearly did not come off as safe.
A number of years ago I taught two services on a Sunday Morning at a local church. I spoke on raising teenagers and challenged the youth and their parents in the congregation to understand the false ideologies that are being taught in our Colleges and High Schools. Since 70% of our Christian kids go off to college and will never come back to church, I thought it would be pretty important for them to be able to defend their faith. In the teaching I attempted to equip the congregation to be prepared to defend our faith by explaining and giving a biblical defense against a variety of false ideologies. Some of the ideologies I mentioned were, The New Tolerance, Darwinism, Post-Modernism, Evolution, Socialism, Homosexuality, Feminism, and Liberation Theology.
The next day, the Pastor called me and literally raked me over the coals for bringing up politically sensitive subjects. His statements were so passionate and well-rehearsed, I might add, that it seemed like he had said this before☺. He reasoned that I would offend new visitors attending the church or non-Christians who might visit and, thus, be upset by my teaching because the message was too rough or controversial. He rebuked me and I accepted the rebuke because, after all, he trusted me with teaching two services, and I respect that generosity as my intention was not to bring up something that he would oppose. In my defense, I did not think this teaching would offend (cause someone to sin is what giving offense means) anyone. However, I also encouraged him to not only teach his congregation to affirm the faith but also defend it (Philippians 1:7), especially when we are seeing a title-wave of misinformation and aggression against Christians and biblical thought in the culture at large.
The irony is that, after the services, large crowds of people gathered around our table as we gave materials away and sold resources. I was inundated with questions and compliments from those hungry to provide biblical answers to the many cultural challenges they expressed facing on a daily basis. Both old and young alike were inquisitive, grateful, and asking penetrating questions!
We must be respectful and gracious in our presentations, of course, but we must also allow God the Father to do His work of drawing people to Himself (John 6:44). After all, we are not omniscient and have no idea who God may be calling!
In view of how Jesus Christ addressed the “crowd,” I wonder what His response would be to this pastor? In Mark 8:34-38 Jesus addresses the crowd with stinging words about followership. Do you think Christ was allowing various spiritual interests or levels of maturity to impact his message when he spoke to the crowds? I think not.
In view of His rebuke, “…but you don’t know how to interpret [discern] the present times,” I have recently come to a profound realization. Namely, that both Old and New Testament truth is applicable for our personal walk with Jesus, as well as in their broader implications for our society at large.
Since I taught as a guest-speaker at that local church, the progressive liberation tide has turned into a Tsunami across our land … particularly in the land of academia. I have little hope that we as a Church will change the world, but we can at least prepare our children and our congregations with biblical answers, which will infuse them with boldness (Acts 4:29).
Clearly Christ is not safe, but He is indeed good!
In His Goodness,