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Tolerance, Passivity, Complacency: What is the Kindness of God that Leads to Repentance?

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In many modern churches, the true essence of divine grace and mercy has been distorted and diluted, resulting in a skewed understanding of the transformative power of God’s love. With their plush pews, rainbow-splattered banners, and messages of unconditional acceptance, these churches often project an image of a permissive and complacent faith, rather than one that calls for genuine transformation.

In an effort to attract and appease congregants, these modern synagogues of Satan shy away from addressing sin or confronting spiritual apathy, opting instead for a comfortable, non-confrontational approach. This deceptive misrepresentation of the profound impact God’s love can have on the human heart has led many to mistakenly believe that repentance is an outdated, unnecessary concept, fostering a sense of spiritual stagnation and superficial faith.

One of the most misused passages to proliferate this false vulgar putrefaction of God’s mercy and grace is found in Romans 2:4, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” It is the “kindness of God” that is misunderstood and misused, equated with tolerance and acceptance of sin without judgment.

The “kindness of God” that leads to repentance is a profound concept woven into the fabric of the Christian faith, intricately connected with God’s grace and sovereignty. This kindness is not an affirmation of sin nor a passive tolerance of wrongdoing. Instead, it’s a powerful force that graciously draws us to recognize our need for forgiveness, turn away from our sinful ways, and embrace the transformative power of God’s grace, which He bestows upon His chosen people.

When considering the kindness of God, one must begin with the very character of God Himself. The Bible paints a picture of a loving, compassionate, and merciful Creator—but also a God of judgment and wrath—who, in His divine sovereignty, has chosen to bring healing and restoration to His creation. Throughout Scripture, we see God’s kindness displayed in His steadfast love for His people, particularly in the Old Testament as He persistently pursues the people of Israel despite their constant rebellion. In the New Testament, we see God’s kindness most vividly demonstrated through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who came to offer redemption and eternal life to all whom the Father has called to Himself.

But what exactly does the kindness of God look like in practice? One example can be found in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. In this story, the younger son squanders his inheritance on reckless living, only to find himself destitute and alone. When he finally comes to his senses, he returns to his father, hoping to be taken in as a servant. Yet, his father’s response is far from what he expects. The father, filled with compassion, runs to embrace his lost son, lavishing him with love and forgiveness. This extraordinary display of kindness reflects God’s gracious and sovereign choice to save His people, leading the Son to genuine repentance and restoration.

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As believers, we are called to emulate this kindness of God in our interactions with others. This doesn’t mean that we should shy away from addressing sin or offering correction when needed. In fact, sometimes the most loving and kind thing we can do is to confront someone about their sin or false beliefs—and sometimes, even mockery, sarcasm, and scorn are warranted—so long as it’s done with a spirit of love, humility, and genuine concern for their well-being.

Jesus Himself often employed this approach, as seen in His interactions with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His day. In Matthew 23, Jesus offers a sharp rebuke to the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness, not out of a desire to tear them down, but because He longed for them to experience true repentance and transformation.

Yet, even tearing some down isn’t completely off the table when it comes to demonstrating God’s love and kindness. In the historical narrative of 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah boldly confronts the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, seeking to expose the futility of their idolatry and reveal the sovereignty of the one true God. As the prophets of Baal desperately called upon their deity to ignite a sacrificial offering, they were met with silence and inaction. Observing their futile attempts, Elijah took the opportunity to mock their efforts, taunting them with suggestions that their god was either deep in thought, preoccupied, or on a journey.

Elijah’s purpose in doing so was twofold: to demonstrate the impotence of the false god Baal in contrast to the omnipotent God of Israel, and to jolt the people of Israel out of their spiritual complacency, urging them to abandon their idolatrous practices and turn back to the true God. This dramatic showdown ultimately culminated in a powerful display of divine intervention, as the Lord consumed Elijah’s offering with fire from heaven, leaving no doubt as to His unmatched power and authority.

The Apostle Paul also exhibited this aspect of God’s kindness in his letters to the early churches. For instance, when addressing the issue of sexual immorality within the Corinthian church, Paul urged the congregation to confront and discipline the offender, not out of spite or vengeance, but out of love and a desire to see the individual restored to a right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

But in our modern Evangelical culture, even the Apostle Paul would be considered unloving, bigoted, and hateful, even by “conservative” standards. In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul addressed the issue of false teachers who were promoting a distorted version of the Gospel, insisting that Gentile believers must be circumcised and adhere to the Jewish law to be justified. Paul vehemently opposed this teaching, arguing that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, not through adherence to the law. In Galatians 5:12, Paul expresses his frustration with these false teachers, using a hyperbolic and provocative statement, wishing that they would go beyond circumcision and emasculate themselves. This forceful language underscores the severity of the situation and the extent of Paul’s concern for the spiritual well-being of the Galatian believers and demonstrates how important it is to preserve the true Gospel message while safeguarding the church from the influence of false teachers.

In a world where the true meaning of God’s kindness has been obscured by cultural trends that promote permissiveness and complacency, it is more important than ever for believers to embrace a biblical understanding of divine love and grace. We must resist the temptation to conform to a superficial version of kindness that neuters the church’s ability to stand in confrontation to sin and hinders genuine transformation.

Let us not forget that God’s love, though boundless and compassionate, is also characterized by its unwavering commitment to truth and righteousness. As followers of Christ, we are called to embody this love in all its facets, recognizing that it is often demonstrated in ways that may seem unpleasant or challenging, yet are ultimately rooted in a deep desire for our spiritual growth and well-being. By embracing this holistic understanding of God’s kindness, we can become agents of true gospel witness, demonstrating the power of God’s love to change hearts and bring reconciliation between God and man.


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