Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Eternity - Where will you spend it?

Here's a little discussion starter (number one in a series of three):

This is, for most people, the pivotal question  - yet sadly it is a question that I find is increasing asked less and less by those who consider themselves to be 'Church'. The reason for this is often because we ('Church') fear that we might be regarded as judgemental should we challenge the attitudes, lifestyles and behaviour of others.

I am increasingly being told that we ('Church') don't have the right to challenge others - and not all of those doing the telling are to be found outside of the Church or the walls of the buildings that house them. And you know what? Those who tell me that I 'don't have the right ' to challenge are absolutely correct, for we ('Church') don't - we have the duty and that's more compelling.

But the problem is that we want to be popular - you remember 'popular'? This is the mechanism by which we refrain from admonishing behaviour that stands opposed to that which God tells us is the best option for us. We applaud 'choice' even when we can see that the logical outcome of that choice is something less than the best for them that take it. We retreat into an impotent faith that meekly proclaims that, 'God wants everyone to be happy' (regardless of the path taken or the place that it leads) and avoids passing any opinion that might be unpopular.

If confronted, this Christianity merely smiles, changes the subject or nods and says nothing at all! It works on the premise, 'If you can't say nothing popular then don't say nothing at all*!'

After all, as another minister recently told me, 'Saying nothing condemns no one.'

The problem is that my colleague (not an Anglican) and their words are wrong because in fact they and the person they failed to warn both stand condemned. Let's put it another way:

If a car mechanic knows that the brakes are potentially dangerous and send the car out with your family in it and the fail, killing them all, would you consider the mechanic responsible for the deaths?

If you considered the mechanic to be guilty would you consider them to be even worse because they knew of the potential for loss of life and did nothing about it, allowing the passengers in the car to continue on their way with the potential for death hanging over them and yet doing nothing to even warn them?

If you answered 'Yes' to either (or both) of those questions then you know how God views us when we sit and smile or nor and say nothing. He will view us in the same way you've just regarded our fictitious mechanic!

And taking it a step further: If the mechanic told you (in their defence) that they didn't warn them of the potential for something fatal because they didn't want to upset the passengers, would you consider this to be a viable defence or merely something that condemned them further?

When we see people with the potential (or even the reality) for death, perhaps not immediate but at some stage, yet we do nothing about it - and when they end up dead (because of the situation we did nothing to warn them about, that's how God will regard us too!

* a corruption of the words of St Thumper of Bambi - it's not just the Bible that gets rewritten I'm afraid!


Graham Criddle said...

Hi Vic - thanks for this.

The words of God to Ezekiel are appropriate here - where He makes it clear that if the "watchman" gives a warning and people ignore it that is their responsibility, but if the "watchman" sees danger coming and doesn't warn he is responsible and accountable (Ezekiel 33:1-6).

God then goes on to say to Ezekiel "I have made you a watchman" (v6).
For those of us who are called to speak about Jesus - which is surely all of us who profess to follow Him - the principles in this passage are important and challenging.


Anonymous said...

It's such an important point he makes it more than once: Ezekiel 3:16 -21

He also warns against false prophets who say 'Peace' when there is no peace... in other words who fail to give the warning but instead tell the people what they want to hear (Ezekiel 13:7 - 12).

Anonymous said...

Think this works so well with http://victhevicar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/alert-loving-and-reconciling-watchmen.html

Will use it next week with all age service