PETER: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up having loosed the pains of death…” (Acts 2:22-23)
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: “Peter, you really should not use guilt in your sermons. You should focus more on love and grace. People are not brought to Christ through tough preaching like that. We really would appreciate it if you could make your lessons more uplifting and edifying. Build people up, don’t tear them down. Love them. Be nice to them, and then maybe they will want to know more about your life.”
STEPHEN: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51-53).
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: “Stephen, your sermon is way too harsh. You need to tone things way down. Stop trying to make people feel guilty or else we are going to have to stone you. Stephen, if you would just try a more loving approach I’m sure more people would be convicted. Don’t you get it Stephen—today it’s all about easygoing preaching. We want a message that makes us comfortable and happy.”
PAUL: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.”
RELIGIOUS LEADERS: “Paul, you need to be careful, otherwise people may leave. You’re way too brash. You are going to have people coming to us complaining. Focus more on love and an easy life and the people will be happy. Your message of repentance stirs up too much controversy. Just preach lessons on how to be happy and be kind. That’s what the people want to hear.”
Just a little reminder to all those who feel repentance, guilt, and strong preaching are out of touch—“ For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).