I heard this from a Christian youth. “Jesus is so nice in the other gospels. But I don’t particularly appreciate how he talks in the book of John. He sounds tough in that book.”
I had to contain a chuckle. But my mind was thinking, “Oh! Who told you he is good? He talked tough at times.”
- Have you met Jesus? E.g., “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! (Matthew 23:25).
- Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (Luke 12:51).
- “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. (Mark 10:18).
What Christ was basically doing is called “tough love.” Cambridge dictionary defines ‘tough love‘ as a way of dealing with someone’s problem by not showing a lot of kindness so that they solve it themselves.
If you sift through the scriptures, I think Jesus used ‘tough love’ on the ‘self-righteous’ #ivemadeit kind of believers. E.g., Some of the Israelites felt that they’d understood all things because they have read the entire Holy Book. Yet Jesus told them that was not quite true, for they did not see God in Christ.
Tough love is what a coach would give you. Maybe you’re not focused on the game, or you don’t play well with others when you enter the pitch. Or, you don’t put in your best work. The coach may decide to be tough on you so that you despise your current accomplishments, and become motivated to do better!
But tough love requires wisdom. You have to know how to apply it. God is the best teacher because he is the fire that does not consume (the burning bush experience).
The Vision of The Cherubims
Have you ever read prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the cherubims? (Ezekiel 1:4-28 & 10). In the visions, the prophet described the Cherubims’ features. I found it interesting that the legs of the cherubims are straight (verse 7).
“Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze.” (Ezekiel 1:7).
The Cherubims are a high-order of angels. Their task is to attend the altar of God. From how Ezekiel describes them, you can tell that they are fierce beings. You don’t mess with cherubims.
Yet from their straight legs, I got this lesson, “Our faith should be as steady/straight as the legs of the Cherubims.”
What’s a steady faith?
“You too, be patient and firm, because the LORD’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The judge is standing at the door!” James 5:8-9.
Some versions say, “Establish/set your heart in the LORD.” (English Standard Version James 5:8).
Therefore, a steady faith is from a heart that’s set on Christ.
This is the heart of a person who no longer has any doubts about Jesus.
We already have proof of the nature of Christ. We see his compassion and teachings in the gospels. We see the life and work of the Apostles in the new testament. As such, the nature of Christ is revealed in its entirety through His Word.
We know God and His son are judges. “The judge stands at the door.” (James 5:9b). In the world’s courts, I have never seen a friendly judge. I’ve never seen a judge who laughs when something funny is said or acts like they are in a good mood that day. Societal expectations have always framed the judge as “harsh” in the sense that they won’t tolerate ‘nonsense.’
Think about it: When we go to court; we automatically fear the judge. The fear of the LORD, is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
Yet, I have never heard of a court case where the judge looked at the criminal and said, “You broke the law. But we forgive you.”
As much as GOD is tough! And He puts us through tough love. He already demonstrated His love by giving us the gift of Christ.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).”
We like this teaching: We are Children of GOD.”
But, let’s not forget this teaching, “We were not called to be children forever, in a spiritual sense. We are to grow up in the matters of faith.”
Quick question: What happened to you when you turned 16? Did you turn 22 while still in your parents’ house? How did that go?
When I turned 18, I asked my parents for pocket money. My mum replied with these words, “Why should I give you pocket money? Shouldn’t you be earning by now?”
Ouch! Tough love!
Yet parents do it because if you carry a child forever, they will never grow up. Their lives will not be steady if they know that mum or dad can bail them out. When they argue with their spouses, they rush to mummy for a sleepover.
No way! Even in the faith! GOD calls us to grow up!
I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, (1 Corinthians 3:2).
You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. (Hebrews 5:12)
- Who will teach others?
- Who will fight for the wellbeing of the vulnerable?
- Who will fight for teenagers and youths lost in this world?
- Who will join God in the fight?
- Do you know there’s a war going on, a war of the spirit?
How can you know if you still hold on to basic teachings, e.g., God loves you. Hope in God. Be positive—love one another.
Purpose to Grow! There’s so much to learn about God! And there’s so much work to do for God.
So when He disciplines us, and when we feel that He is tough on us. When we see the tough scriptures, let them encourage us to grow up into warriors for God!
A final example:-
Two things plagued my brother’s mind when he was a youth. “Latest clothes and play station.” Unfortunately, something happened to our family, and he was forced to live in the outskirts with an aunt. There was no PlayStation (he barely got the chance to enjoy tv) and no latest fashion.
In fact, his outdated, ragged jeans were the latest fashion on that side of the world.
He constantly worried about saving up so that he would escape the outskirts. He wanted to come back to the city, do drugs, hand out with his friends, get the latest clothes, get the PlayStation, and enjoy his life. (Woe unto thee, the YOLO generation).
He opened the bible one night before heading to sleep. He sought the bible because He wanted God to comfort him.
But scripture hit him that night?
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).
Ouch! Tough love!
Yes. But if we are to be as steady as the cherubims’ legs, then God has to be tough on us.