I love peanut butter and jelly 'sammiches'!!!
I have tried peanut butter sandwiches and jelly sandwiches, but the combination of the two beats the singles hands down. There is something about combining the two that bring this culinary treat to satisfy my palate. In my estimation, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are much like God.... (hold that thought) In reading Acts 20 this morning, I ran across Paul preparing to leave his friends at Ephesus. He told them he would probably not be back; he was heading to an uncertain future in Jerusalem. The church grieved the words of departure that Paul shared. Paul encouraged the church to remain strong and continue to grow in their faith. Verse 27 was especially good for me to absorb.
Paul never minced words and always shared the balanced Gospel of mercy and justice. You can't have one without the other....well you can but the outcome is an unbalanced Gospel. (sort of like peanut butter without jelly) "I haven't avoided proclaiming the entire plan of God to you." (Acts 20:27, CEB)
Paul loved God and people so much that proclaiming the "entire plan of God" was more important than spoon feeding the pleasant parts of the Gospel while setting aside the less desirable portions. God is merciful. God is just. A balanced Gospel brings regeneration to dead sin-filled lives. Our admission of sin and repentance open the doors of our heart so that Christ can enter in bringing His redemptive blood to do the work we fail to accomplish on our own. Exposing sin in our hearts and bringing us to a place of spiritual tension allows Christ to display his victory over sin and helps us realize our great need of Him. All of this is done through the grace of God.
I could stand in the pulpit all day and proclaim God's great love, but if I don't address the nature of sin and its destructive potential then I have given a peanut butter sandwich to the hearer.
Peanut butter and jelly go together like mercy and justice. I am glad they do. I hear some of you musing over this peanut butter and jelly metaphor. Some of you are thinking, "I can add banana or marshmallow cream and a host of other things to my 'sammich'. You're right. I add extras too! Jalapenos??? Not jalapenos though.....
Hmmm, maybe that is why there are so many denominations in the world. The Gospel never needs add-ons. Ever! One church decides to add an ingredient to their sandwich, while another church takes one of the ingedients away.
Don't ever avoid proclaiming the entire plan of God for the world.