Too afraid to preach what we need to hear?

How many of you go to your place of worship and get told, over and over and over, how much God loves you? Just the way you are? And that Jesus loves you, and died for you so that you can be with Him and the Father in heaven, forever? And that your sins are forgiven the moment you call on the Name of the Lord? Forever and ever. All you need to do is call on His name and you are saved! Hallelujah!!

That’s all true, of course; God does love you, and Yeshua died for you so that you have a chance to be with Him.

But not in heaven- that is not where the bible says we will be.

And when you call on the Name of the Lord for salvation, it only works if you really mean it, and that requires you to change your ways for the rest of your life. And if you think that is hard to do, you’re right!

And when you go to a place to worship, you must tithe to that place. And not just the loose change you happen to have, but 10%! Too often people argue: 10% of gross? 10% of net? of expendable? Why not just give what you want to give, no matter what percent it represents?  That’s up to you, but you must tithe, and that tithe should be, at the very least, a significant amount of your income.

And you need to participate. You need to help clean up after an Oneg Shabbat (snacks after the services- it means ‘Joy of Sabbath’), or clean up the property, or help vacuum the sanctuary: whatever it is, you need to participate in congregational activities.

These are things that are biblically required, but how often does a Minister, Priest or Rabbi talk about tithing? Or tell you that calling on God’s name is only the start, because you have to work at it. Constantly. And how often does someone tell their congregation they need to get more people to come because we need more people to do the work?

Yes, we hear leaders pray for Yeshua (Jesus) to send more harvesters to the field, and we pray for God’s divine guidance and help to fulfill our mission, but that’s not enough. There is nothing in the bible that says we should sit around and pray, and not do anything. All the people in the bible God called, He called to DO something.

God didn’t tell Abraham to stay in Ur; God didn’t tell Jacob to stay with Laban; God didn’t tell Moses to hang around Mt. Sinai; God didn’t tell the Prophets to stay at home and pray; God didn’t tell Yeshua to stay in Bethlehem; Yeshua didn’t tell Shaul to stay at home, and God will never tell you to sit around, pray for something and wait for Him to make it happen for you. God wants you to look to Him for guidance, for help, for strength and for leadership, but He expects that you will do something with it when He gives it to you!

(Read the parable of the Talents- Matthew 25:14)

I am blessed and honored to give the message about once a month, and we usually follow the parashot in the Torah, but this year I think I need to expand that to tell people they need to get off their tuchas and do something. We need to stop going to church or synagogue on Sabbath Day and pray, sing, and kibbutz, then forget about it all until next weekend. We need to be challenging ourselves to do more during the week, as well. Bring God into conversation, ask people you know to visit with you at the next service, ask your religious leader what you can do to help him or her to accomplish the mission of your place of worship. Volunteer somewhere that does God’s work, with humans or with animals- it doesn’t matter. God likes animals, too.

And if you are a leader in your religious community, a Pastor, a Rabbi, a Council member, an Elder…whatever you are, if you are in ministry leadership, don’t be afraid to tell your congregation what they need to know. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about tithing because it is, after all, your salary, well…get over it!  God commands people to tithe, and if you don’t keep on them about it, then you aren’t spreading God’s word, and (worse than that) your fear or discomfort may be causing some to stumble into sin.

If you don’t like to talk about the hard work and suffering it takes to remain a faithful servant of God, and all you want to do is tell people the “Happy-Happy” stuff because then they tell you how much they liked the sermon, and you get more people coming in to hear about how they are OK just as they are, then you are failing to tell the truth. You are recruiting people for battle without showing them how to defend themselves or even giving them any battle armor.

If you are in leadership you need to lead. You cannot be afraid to tell the truth about salvation, that truth being that it is hard: Yeshua said we need to leave everything behind, which includes our comfort zone, and carry our own execution stake to follow Him. People need to be prepared for the fact that they will be ridiculed, excluded from friends, (maybe even) excluded from family, talked about as prudish and “holier-than-thou” by other people. They need to know they will be required to give their time and money to the place where they worship, and expected to participate in activities there.

If someone is unevenly yoked, meaning that their spouse doesn’t believe the same way they do, or maybe is just a member of a different place of worship, they need to be told that there will have to be compromise- but never compromise to the point where you do not tithe or participate. Two people who love the Lord and believe in Yeshua as their Messiah can still be unevenly yoked. Dealing with that situation ain’t gonna be easy, take it from me, but if you also show your spouse the the love, patience and understanding that God shows to you, you will make it that much easier to deal with.

Salvation is easy to get, and hard to keep. If we don’t let people know that, up front, then the good seed will not be able to take root. Living for God is living against the world, and there’s a lot more world out there than there is you, or me. But we have God on our side, so the bottom line is that, as Shaul (Paul) says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

And in Romans 8:31, Shaul also gives this word of encouragement regarding our struggle against the world:

If God is for us, who can be against us? 

So be prepared to prepare yourself, and your congregation, for what is to come. Yes, preach about God’s love and forgiveness- please don’t ever let up on that, for it is an encouraging and edifying word. But also let people know what they will be up against, and what they need to do to maintain a proper attitude of faithfulness- not just in their spirit, but from their pocket and from their sweat.

It is because God’s love for you and me is so great that it resulted in God sending His only son to die, which required Yeshua to give up His divinity in order to take on flesh, so that He could die. We often hear that God is all about love, but God isn’t all about love; He is also about sacrifice, hard work, justice, diligence, and perseverance. Don’t ever forget that.

Look at all He did for you, all He gave up, forever: is what He asks back from us so much?

Comments welcomed (just be nice)