The Principle of Saying Hard Things

John 6:22-71, especially verses 30-34 (The Message): "They waffled: "Why don't you give us a clue about who you are, just a hint of what's going on? When we see what's up, we'll commit ourselves. Show us what you can do. Moses fed our ancestors with bread in the desert. It says so in the Scriptures: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' 

 "Show us what you can do", they said. When the crowd that was fed the loaves and fishes could not find Jesus, they went searching for Him. When they found him, they asked him what sign he would perform for them. Their demand demonstrated their obtuseness. They were shallow, filled with selfish curiosity. The feeding of the multitude was sign enough if they were willing to obey Jesus. The issue was not belief, it was obedience. They had to act on what they already knew to be true if Jesus was going to teach them more truth. 

If people fail to act on what they already know to be true, then giving them more knowledge only serves to harden their hearts and deepen their deception. Spiritual leaders have to be willing to say hard things to their people.

 True shepherds must be willing to lose sheep. Many of Jesus' disciples turned away from him (John 6:60-66). It is sad to see people leave us. It is disheartening to lose good people. But if we speak the truth in love, and people will not receive it, what happened to Jesus may happen to us as well. 

"From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more". John 6:66 (NKJV)

Never bind people to you. What Jesus did next was astounding: he gave those who were closest to him opportunity to leave as well:

"After this a lot of his disciples left. They no longer wanted to be associated with him. Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: "Do you also want to leave?" John 6:66-67 The Message

Your disciples must always have the freedom to leave. Obedience is voluntary. It has to come from the heart, not because we demand it or coerce it from people.

 Disobedient people want to hear words that please them. They want signs to tickle their fancy and they want pastors who don't confront their unbelief. Don't fall into that trap. You must remain free to disciple for obedience.