I have heard a whole lot of media chatter, rising to a crescendo during the coverage of the passing of Billy Graham, that apparently believes the most desirable feature of the Christian message or messenger is that it is without any judgment.
Frankly, it makes me a little uncomfortable.
Now, I do realize that, over the years, the Church has done a great job of making itself look and sound self-righteous and mean-spirited in our judgmental and often hypocritical pronouncements against sin and the world.
And I also realize that it is the kindness of the Lord that He intends to leads us all to repentance (Romans 2:4). That is the kindness that the world saw in the life of Billy Graham and should see in the Church’s interface with the world.
But I suspect that the national acclaim of a Gospel without “judgment” is largely motivated by the desire for a salvation without repentance.
We all want a Gospel that saves us but that makes no demands… a grace that covers a multitude of sins but doesn’t transform the way we live.
No wonder George Barna’s research reveals that what “Christians” believe and how we behave is not that different from the general population.
In the second recorded Gospel sermon ever preached, Peter, unafraid to call out the sins of his audience in the Temple precincts, calls them to repentance so that their “sins may be blotted out” and informs them that God had raised up Jesus for the express purpose of blessing them, “by turning everyone from their wickedness” (Acts 3:19&26).
I have listened to enough of Billy Graham’s sermons to know that he did not shy away from addressing sin, for the destructive force that it is in our lives and society, and called his audiences around the world to repentance.
One historian, of the great 18th century revival in Great Britain, recorded that John Wesley did not waste his time decrying the grotesque and nation-crippling sins of his day. Rather, he attacked them head-on by calling the nation to repentance.
And the response was nation-changing.
Now, that is a kindness!