1 Samuel 3:17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.”
Did you ever see the movie ‘A Few Good Men?’ it stars Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. It’s a courtroom drama and its gripping climax comes when Tom Cruise is cross examining Nicholson near the end. In a battle of words, Cruise passionately insists that he wants to hear the truth, to which Nicholson aggressively replies: “You can’t handle the truth!”
When old Eli insists that the boy Samuel tells him what God has spoken to him, he wants to hear the truth, no matter what it is. Samuel is reluctant to tell him because it is a prophetic curse upon Eli and his sons. But Eli persists and even curses Samuel with the same fate if he does not tell him what God has said.
I wonder if moments later Eli had wished he hadn’t been given the message. The truth was ruthless and full of judgment upon Eli and his family. Would he have been better off being ignorant of God’s wrathful message?
I try to preach the Gospel from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. Sometimes when I’m looking over a chosen passage, I wish that Jesus hadn’t said what He did. I know that when I start preaching the truth, it is sometimes too much for people in the pews to handle. So I’m left with a dilemma, do I please the people by diluting the Gospel, or do I please Jesus by not mincing His words?
The truth about the Gospel is this: some people can’t handle it, so they shape it into something that makes them comfortable and spiritually cozy. But they ignore this truth – how cozy is the Cross? How comfortable are the calls that Christ makes to us to repent, challenge our ways, and change our lives? A Gospel that is comfortable makes us all spiritual couch potatoes; Christ’s Gospel, which is awkward and challenging, makes us who God calls us to be.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we’ve let society become our Savior and allowed the world to become the Word. We’ve surrendered our souls to coziness and peacefulness, instead of aligning our spirits to the Gospel and You. We honestly can’t handle the Truth and so we make up our own Way, which leads us to no Life. Forgive us and rebuke us; direct us and renew us. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to watch the courtroom clip, you can see it at the following location: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j2F4VcBmeo