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Colossians 1:17-"And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


The Nature of Christ- He holds everything together in Himself. You, me, our kids, our world,
everything that can exist does exist within Him. There isn't one thing seen or unseen that
actually doesn't exist inside of Christ. But what that means for us is this- Jesus is able to hold
together lots of different contradictory things together within Himself without it being difficult
or confusing for Him.

Good example- Free Will and God's Sovereignty. Both of these realities exist in Christ. And
while most of us struggle from time to time with what we believe about how these two ideas
play out in our every day lives, Jesus really is totally unconcerned with their seeming
contradiction. He simply holds these two paradoxical realities together within Himself.

Here's why I bring this up. We're called to be a discipleship movement that is both
grace-based and at the same time calls people to actually repent of their sins. (Grace-based:
We understand that true transformation doesn't come by our own works but by God working in
us. Repetance: We change the way we think and act so that we begin to think and act like
Jesus). For most people these two ideas can seem like total opposites...and yet Jesus holds
them together in his very being.

Here's where this all becomes very practical: The same Jesus that hung out at parties with tax
collectors and sinners was also the same Jesus that called His followers to deal with sin to the
point of mutilating themselves and yet he was the same Jesus that freed the woman caught in
adultery. These are all the different ways that Jesus handled sin in the lives of the people
around him. We're troubled by these opposites in the actions of Jesus. But Jesus isn't troubled
at all. In his heart all of these methods make sense and are held together in who He is. And
beloved, we are called to grow up into this aspect of who Jesus is in just the same way we're
called to grow up in all the others.

The Burning Heart of Jesus Christ

Most of the time we fall short because we treat sin only one of two ways: Hate or
Compassion. We hate sin we see in ourselves and others or we feel love for people caught in
their sin. Both of these approaches are wrong because they only apply half of God's emotions
about sin towards sin that we or others are caught in.

"Set me as a seal upon your heart,

as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the LORD.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it." (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

God's feelings for people in sin are full of both intense love for sinners and burning anger
towards those things that keep people trapped in their sin. God had tremendous compassion for
sinners both in the Old and New Testament. If you ever want to understand God's heart
towards his people in sin go read the book of Hosea. God tells one of the prophets to go and
marry a prostitute, a woman God knew would betray Hosea. Time and again Hosea goes and
buys back his wife from a pimp. And here's the point-God has a deep heart of love for His
people even in their sin. He will go time and again to see them restored in love. His love is
jealous. He does not share us with other lovers. His jealousy causes Him to treat us with
mercy and free us from sin (Romans 2:4).

But there is a flip side to this intense burning mercy. It causes Him to judge sin and to call for
people to leave it. Mark 10:21 describes Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler. Jesus saw
a man caught in the sin of greed and idolatry. Knowing that this man both truly wanted to be
saved and yet was bound by his wealth, Jesus tells him that in order to enter the kingdom he
has to give everything away. But it also says this: Jesus loved him. Jesus called him out of
his sin because he loved this man and saw both the short-term and long term affect it would
have on him. Again, Jesus called us as his followers to deal with sin no matter what the cost.
Sin destroys us and his relationship with Him. And so he calls us to repent of those things that
eat at our love like rust destroying metal.

Becoming A Reflection of the Burning Love of Jesus

Again we have to be come a reflection of this man who burns with love like this. We have to
love the weak who are wrestling with sin. We must have mercy and become a safe place for
those who are weak and broken under the weight of sin. And at the same time, we have to
learn to express the deep passion of His heart that warns and calls to those who are
unresponsive. When we can properly balance the mercy of God toward the weak and the call of
God to the sinful in the realm of Love, God calls that state of being "holiness." And it is
precisely because of this quality in Jesus that so many were attracted to Him. His holiness was
full of love and his love was full of holiness and they had never met anyone like that before.

The reality is though, we have to become this for us before we can become this for others. We
have to learn how to feel this way about ourselves when we sin and apply God's tough love to
ourselves personally before we can do that with anyone else. So, if you're here and you're
struggling with serious sin, God loves you deeply. He loves you more than you can possibly
imagine, even with you struggle. But if you've been turning a deaf ear to Jesus, then my
admonition for you is this: it's time to repent. It's time to get on God's page. That's not
wrong for us to say. It's what Jesus would say if He was here. Deal with your sin. Get honest
about it. Stop lying to yourself and get some help from someone if you're serious. And by the
way, if you do, there's greater levels of the Kingdom in it for you.

When we get good at doing this with ourselves, then we can start doing it for others. And we
have to. We have to become a people who help each other to grow up into holiness. Some of
us will be trapped in sin and desperately in need of mercy and forgiveness. And when they
come to us just exposing a little bit of sin, we will have to have tasted enough of Jesus to show
them mercy so they can open up and show us the true darkness of their soul. Some of us will
be hopelessly in rebellion against Christ. Beloved when this is the case we have to love that
person so much that we will get out of our comfort zone and bring the truth. It helps no one to
pretend like things are okay when they're not. No one would stick with a doctor who lied about
your cancer prognosis because he didn't want to hurt your feelings. When this happens, we
have to have a burning love that empowers us to sit down with someone and share with them
the serious situation they are trying desperately to avoid. Again, the key is love. If we loose
love, we loose the ability to do this in the way that Christ did.

The Movement Needs This

Why am I brining this up now? Well there are two types of movements out there: One type of
movement gets really big really fast by including as many people as possible. They don't really
challenge people to walk in holiness. They love Jesus but they'll take anyone because they
have a lot of compassion and don't want to turn anyone away. Their hearts are really big.
While they a lot of times end up with a lot of people, society isn't really changed all that much
because the people inside that movement never really changed all that much.

The other type of movement is the exact opposite. They have high standards and the minute
you drop the ball you're out. They're still able to exist because high standards attract a certain
type of people. But really there is no room for mistakes, so people get burn out from legalism
and most people can't get in in the first place because they're just not good enough. Society is
still never really changed with these people because most of society never makes it into this
type of movement.

"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying,
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark

We're at the place in our history where our growth is going to be held in check by our holiness.
We're not going to grow beyond the point where we have holy people to lead others into
holiness. We're going to be grace-based, we're going to bring mercy to those trapped in sin,
but that is not the area we're having trouble in right now. Our area of trouble is responding to
the urging of Jesus to repent and change. If we don't have believers growing in dedication to
the love of Jesus, we become nothing more than a middle-class club we're inviting others into.

Repentance causes believers to grow faster than anything. It is the basis for all spiritual growth.

How Do We Get There?

Practical Steps To Responding--

We need to begin to change how we respond to sin in our hearts. Purpose in your hearts
to become quick to repent. If you haven't been quick to repent, esepcially for things
you've done to people, apologize to them.
Begin to read and pray the Bible. Serious exposure to Scripture will cause us to increase
in our understanding of God and provoke us to change. You can read the Bible and not
want to change but if you want to change and read the Bible there will be plenty of stuff
for you to work on.
Become a safe place for people to bring their sin and at the same time challenge them to
leave it.
Begin to respond to positive and negative conviction that come from other believers. Use
it for an opportunity to grow and not a chance to be offended.
Begin to meet with other believers in groups of 2 or 3 and discuss places where you need
accountability. Also discuss what God is showing you in Scripture. One will not work
without the other