(Image courtesy of http://theodysseyonline.com.)
The good, sovereign Lord is faithful to see to it that His followers never get too far off the straight and narrow path of His truth.  He disciplines His people into righteousness, so that they may properly and correctly walk in His ways.  This truth is evidenced in church history.

There was a time when the church taught the holiness of God with such fervency that it lead to overwhelming legalism.  Taking the holiness of God and distorting it apart from the grace of God, some church leaders placed rules and stipulations on their congregations that were unbiblical.  After some time, a few church leaders were raised up by God - reformers, we might call them - and began to preach and teach on the grace of God and His great love for sinners.  Once again, the reformers' message was distorted (more accurately, God's love was distorted) so that the people forgot about God's holiness and began to compromise their beliefs for the sake of making others feel good because, after all, God loved them too much to make them feel bad about themselves.

The doctrinal pendulum has swung back and forth throughout church history.  Yet each time the pendulum has swung too far one way, God has always faithfully raised up reformers to bring the Church back to the Truth.  He does this because it is His Church and He is faithful to Himself always.  Of course, in all actuality, God is equally as holy as He is loving; He is equally as wrathful against sin as He is gracious toward the repentant; He is equally as just as He is merciful.  God is perfect and there is no single trait that carries more weight in His character than any other.

Today, we are undoubtedly nearing the top of the pendulum's swing of the doctrine of God's love for sinners, which has been distorted to emotionally-charged, false feel-good nonsense.

There are a couple tell-tale signs in today's Christian circles that point to this clear distortion of God's truth.  For one, the use of the word "feel" used to dictate God's truth.  Secondly, the use of the word "nice" used to admonish and raise up a generation of weak, spineless followers of the almighty and all-powerful King of kings and Lord of lords.

First of all, the word "feel" is used synonymously today for the word "think".  However, the differences between these two words is powerful and important to distinguish.  "Feel" is based on emotion.  Emotional decisions change from day-to-day or even moment-to-moment.  To make decisions about truth (i.e. what is right and what is wrong) based on emotion is a dangerous and foolish thing to do.  The word "think", on the other hand, refers to thoughtful inquiry and reason.  To make decisions about truth, we must engage our minds and be wary of listening to our emotions.

In the famous verses by the Apostle Paul in Romans, he writes: "Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world (which is sin), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:1-2).  Elsewhere, Paul writes: "But we have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:16).  In the latter verse, Paul is explaining to the church in Corinth that the believer has been given the mind of Christ - the same thinking as Christ - by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God.  It is, therefore, imperative that we rationally and logically think about the truth of God and not feel the truth of God.

Yesterday, I listened to a young woman read a passage from the Bible.  She followed up with her commentary, beginning with the words, "I feel like...."  This is exactly the kind of swing of the pendulum that needs reforming.  The believer does not operate based on emotional, feel-good, humanistic nonsense; the believer operates on the logic and truth of God.

Secondly, the word "nice" is often used to train up children in the way they should go.  How many times have you heard these sayings: "Be nice"; "play nice"; "that's not nice"?  I couldn't begin to count the number of times I have heard parents say these things to their children.  This is another area - training up children in the way they should go - that needs direct attention and reform.  Likewise, the church needs reform in her adult conversations as well.

Generally speaking, the modern church in all its progressiveness is weak and spineless because we have replaced the truth and doctrines of the almighty God with emotional, false feel-good nonsense.

The word "nice" means this: pleasant and agreeable.  Think about that definition.  I challenge you: show me one character in the Bible who was nice - pleasant and agreeable - and was obedient to God.  Show me one!  Just one!

Moses was not pleasant or agreeable.  Pharaoh and the Egyptians did not find Moses agreeable or pleasant.  It was through him that God sent the plagues on their people.  Even the Israelites disliked Moses (Exodus 5:20-21).  If Moses had truly been pleasant and agreeable, he would have been liked by his people.  But Moses had something stronger and more foundational than emotional, feel-good relationships with other human beings.  Moses was a man of God, who saw God's glory (Exodus 33:18-23) and spoke the Words of God regardless of how it made the people feel (Deuteronomy).  That is why they grumbled against him.

Jesus was not pleasant or agreeable.  He was despised and rejected by the religious leaders (Matthew 12:14).  More than once people picked up stones to stone Him for things that He said that were not pleasant nor agreeable (John 8:59, 10:31).  He was even killed on a cross (more accurately, He allowed Himself to be killed on a cross (John 10:18)) by people who found Him unpleasant and unagreeable (Luke 23).  Jesus loved His Father so much that He was not willing to compromise anything in order to please people; instead, He pleased His Father regardless of the cost (Philippians 2:5-11).

Peter, John, Paul, James, Stephen, Martin Luther, Corrie ten Boom, Paul Washer, John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, and so many countless others throughout history were not agreeable or pleasant people, which is why they were beheaded, imprisoned, stoned to death, excommunicated, tortured, ridiculed, and mocked.  Instead, these men and women stood for God's truth regardless of what it cost them in terms of emotional or temporal gain.

We have this idea that to be a Christian means we are to be pleasant and agreeable.  Do you know what those words mean?  To be agreeable means to compromise.  To compromise means we become spineless and weak and fearful of others.  It means we do not stand on truth, but on whatever makes those around us happy.  It means we please man rather than God.  It means we sin against the only true God.

The Christian has not been given a spirit of fear (i.e. to compromise the truth of God to be agreeable and pleasant to others - which grows out of fear of man rather than of God), but rather one of power, of love, and of discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

Am I giving an excuse for Christians to be mean?  Of course not.  God commands the believer in Colossians 1:12-15 to be many good things, but not nice:
"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful."
The Christian is to be kind, not nice.  The Christian is to show mercy and compassion, not be nice.  The Christian is to treat others with respect and patience, not play nice.  The Christian should be admonished with words like, "That was not kind or humble" - not "That was not very nice".

Some readers will dismiss this article as an angry argument over small issues.  Others will not see the issue with these words or doctrines at all.  Still, there may be some readers who will search more fervently for the truth of God and seek to surrender more of their lives to His truth and the ways of His Son.  My prayers are with all my readers, that we would all be changed by the God who created us, and that we would all know Him, being conformed to the image of His perfect, holy, loving, righteous, powerful, sinless, risen, reigning Son - Jesus Christ our Lord!

"For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:5-8).