5/15/15 Carlos about 25
Does God’s kindness lead us to repentance? These words, taken from Romans 2:4, are often used to justify an approach to the Gospel that emphasizes Gods love for people over His love for justice – an emphasis on God’s grace over His law. It is assumed that if only people knew how much God loves them, then they will react with repentance and a heart to follow God. But the context of these words is in a much longer passage whose purpose is to show that, while God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance, it does not, because of our stubborn and unrepentant hearts, which are “storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” (vs. 5) So what then, are we to only warn of God’s wrath with no mention of His kindness? This would swing the pendulum too far in the other direction, with an emphasis on God’s love for justice rather than His love for people – his law rather than His grace. I believe the lesson of this passage is that when we share the Gospel, we need to clearly explain how kind God really is, because unbelievers don’t have the ability to truly recognize or appreciate His tremendous kindness for themselves. We need to share of His law in order to understand, in comparison to the punishment we deserve, how kind and loving was His sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and what an appropriate response to His kindness would be. Yet some people do seem to have a grasp of his mercy, but remain in unbelief, like Carlos, a heavily tattooed and pierced young man I reached out to at a coffee shop. Carlos so humbly understood his own sin that, although I did talk about his sin and need for repentance, I didn’t feel the need to focus on it. Instead, I talked about Jesus’ description of God as a loving Father. I shared from Matthew 7 - “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Carlos’ earthly father was far from kind, and Carlos needed an idea of what the kindness of our heavenly Father is like. Pray for Carlos, that the Father’s kindness will lead to repentance and much more – to a saving faith in Jesus!