One of the things I have constantly tried to do as a pastor is to lift up apparent opposites that don’t need to be opposite. I do not want us to be a lopsided church that excels in one kind of virtue at the expense of other virtues.
Obviously, we won’t be able to do all things equally well as a church, just like you cannot do all things equally well as an individual. But my hope is that University Reformed Church could be marked by diverse excellencies: grace and truth, logical precision and warmhearted passion, careful thinking and compassionate feeling, strong theology and tender love, Christian liberty and spiritual discipline, congregational care and committed outreach, appreciation for businessmen and entrepreneurs and advocacy for social justice, interest in local evangelism and interest in world missions, excellence without elitism, unity without uniformity, diversity without doctrinal infidelity, ambition without arrogance, and contentment without complacency.
The reason we want to be a church of diverse excellencies is because God is a God of diverse excellencies. He is sovereign, powerful, omniscient, and holy. And he is merciful, patient, wise, and loving. If we are a church with lopsided virtues we will not reflect the character of God who is perfect in all his ways.
Neither will we reflect Jesus. You want to know why theology matters? It matters because we become what we worship. Therefore, we need to know what God is like and what Jesus is like. If we have a lopsided Lord, we will become lopsided Christians.
We need to know Jesus Christ as both Lion and Lamb.
The Lion-like Jesus in Matthew 23 who said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” is the same as the Lamb-like Jesus in Matthew 25 who said “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
And the Lamb-like Jesus in Matthew 27 who cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is the same as the Lion-like Jesus in Matthew 28 who declared “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” We need to worship Jesus for all his diverse excellencies.
That means as believers we must be deliberate and diligent to know and cherish and imitate and rest in every facet of Christ’s glory. If you are particularly drawn to Jesus’ strength, his unyielding commitment to the word of God, and his unspeakable power, then take time to meditate on Jesus’ mercy, his identification with outsiders, and his unspeakable suffering. And if you are drawn to Jesus as your best friend, confidant, and comforter, be sure to reverently worship him as your King, Lord, and Righteous Judge.
And if you don’t yet know God, or are still getting acquainted with Christ, consider this: A God that is only a lion or only a lamb is only half a God. You hurt and suffer, so you need more than a King to rule over you. But you also lack wisdom and direction, so you need more than a tender hand to comfort you. You sin, so you need a Lamb to bear the guilt you feel and the punishment deserve. You struggle, so you need a Lion who can devour the evil that works in you and the evil that works against you.
What good is a Lion-like God if he doesn’t take care of sin and if he rules by his roar alone?
What good is a Lamb-like God if he doesn’t triumph over suffering and deal with the wrongs in the universe?
Jesus is calling. Do you hear his voice? There is no voice like his. Only in Jesus Christ will you find a God who is both a strong Lion and a slain Lamb. Only in him will you find a God of so many beautiful and diverse excellencies.