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Friday, May 15, 2009

Inactive

Proverbs 24:11-12, “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to His deeds?”
Even those of the world who do not have the Word as a guide or a plumb line have concluded recently that we have become a generation of self obsessed and hedonistic narcissists. We have turned our focus inward, and as long as the self is happy and tended to, we are unconcerned with what’s going on in the world or the spiritual state of those closest to us.
We have cocooned ourselves in the tired and worn out musings and one liners that keep us headed down the same path, coming up with a new catchy phrase or two whenever the need arises, and when the old standbys don’t have the same impact as they once did.
Like a distracted child, who stops crying in the middle of an outburst because something else has caught its attention, the reality of the world we are living in often times causes us to go silent mid slogan, managing to muster up enough enthusiasm to barely whisper what we once proclaimed so ardently.
Crying out ‘God wants you to prosper, and God wants you to be rich’ is sort of difficult when the church building is getting foreclosed on and the shiny Bentley in the driveway is just a memory since the repossession man drove away with it in tow. No doubt it is significantly more difficult to live your best life now on an empty stomach, than it was when you had a full wallet.
We’ve gotten distracted, sidetracked, detoured from that which should be the primary purpose of God’s children, namely to deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. Maybe we have more important things to do, maybe we’re just too full and need a nap, whatever the reason, the house of God is not doing its duty before a sovereign Lord, and those who are stumbling to the slaughter are increasing in numbers as never before.
We’ve grown disturbingly comfortable with being labeled ‘inactive’ within the house of God, or reason to ourselves that throwing a few shekels in the collection plate from time to time, is our means of being active for Jesus.
We need to be reminded of our responsibility toward God as pertains to the unsaved, as well as the consequences we will surely face if God’s command goes unheeded, and we fail in fulfilling our duty toward Him who sees and knows all things.
I was amazed as I reread this passage in proverbs recently, to discover just how much wisdom and insight are packed into two little verses, and just how much ground they cover.
First, we are offered a glimpse of what the condition of the unconverted and unrepentant can be likened to. They are as men dragged toward their death by the chains of their sins, and as those stumbling to the slaughter, drawing ever closer to that fateful day with each breath they breathe, and each sin they commit.
Even though the mission statement of many churches has changed recently from saving souls to combating global climate change, from preaching Jesus to preaching an all inclusive brand of ecumenical universalism, the enemy has kept his focus, and remained on task. Since the first day he slithered up to Eve and beguiled her into tasting of the forbidden fruit, the enemy has not changed in his purpose and ultimate desire to destroy the children of God wherever they might be found. His methodology might have changed somewhat, his means of temptation might have been refined over the centuries, but in purpose the enemy has always been singular, steadfast, and unchanged.
The second thing that struck me about these two verses in Proverbs is that we cannot plead ignorance as pertains to the terrifying fate of the unsaved and unregenerate. We cannot say ‘surely we did not know this’ because the word of God is very explicit on what becomes of those that do not know Jesus, that have not been bought by His precious blood and redeemed unto everlasting life.
The only way we can walk the streets of any given town, in any given country on the face of this earth and not be stirred to proclaim Jesus, not be stirred to deliver those who are drawn to death, is if we have willfully shut off our hearts, and close our eyes. Choosing to dismiss a truth is not equal to never having known the truth. This is why the Word reminds us that we cannot claim ignorance; we cannot say we didn’t know.
A Christian is not so much inactive, as he is absent without leave if he is not doing his duty before God. Far too many have been found to have abandoned their post, and far too many have chosen to disobey direct orders when it comes to holding back those stumbling toward the slaughter.
Our excuses are plentiful, from ‘I’m just one man, what can I do?’ or ‘I tried but they just won’t listen’, however the truth remains unchanged, we are to deliver those who are drawn toward death, by continually presenting them with the Life.
If we present anything other than Jesus to those who are lost in the darkness, then all we are really doing is putting them on a different path to the same destination they were previously headed toward. We must preach Christ, and Him crucified, regardless of who they are, or what they’ve accomplished, and regardless of their reaction to our efforts to reach out to them. Some will reject, in fact most will reject the message of the cross, but it is still incumbent upon us as ambassadors of Christ, to testify of His grace, goodness, and love.
Ezekiel 2:7, “You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.”
Our sovereign duty and responsibility is to speak His words. Whether men hear, or they refuse to hear, is inconsequential. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts a heart; it is the Holy Spirit that prepares the soil so that the seed of the Word falls on good ground. Our duty is to plant the seed, and let the Holy Spirit take care of where it lands, and the root that it takes.
Ezekiel 33:8-9, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”
For those who remain silent when God commands them to speak, or omit the truth for fear of offending the hearer, these are frightful words indeed. God knows the intent of the heart, He knows why we chose to keep silent, He knows why we chose not to speak the words of truth. Throughout the Word there are instances, especially in the book of Revelation where God reminds us that He knows our works, He knows our thoughts, and He knows whether we are hot, cold, or lukewarm.
It is an easy thing to proclaim that we love Jesus; it is however more of an effort to go and witness to those souls for which He gave His life. The question that must be posed, painful as it might be, is how can we say we love Jesus, if we do not love the lost as He did, if we do not sacrifice of ourselves, of our time, and of our resources, to reach those that are still in darkness?
Talking the talk is an easy thing. Walking the walk, is something that requires self denial, and a constant prioritization of His will over our own. The enemy is not concerned with the inactive Christian, because an inactive Christian poses no threat or danger to his plan. It is those who with boldness stand and proclaim Christ crucified that he wars against, that he detests, but that he also fears.
The enemy fears the Christ that is in us, because he knows he is powerless when Jesus is present. Jesus has already overcome the enemy, and we as His beloved are given the same power and authority.
Granted an inactive Christian might not suffer the slings and arrows of the enemy, he might not have to endure warfare on a constant basis, but then again he will never know the glories of victory in Jesus either. God weighs the heart, He knows the soul, and He will render to each man according to his deeds.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

2 comments:

AmyS. Trosen said...

The tools He issues for the work seem designed for use right in our immediate vicinity, don't they. For me, though, it sometimes seems hardest to keep focused while laboring among those who know me the best. I praise God that He is able to keep us from falling. I praise God that Jesus Christ my Savior is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. I praise God that, holding forth the Word of life, when Christ returns I may rejoice that I have neither run nor labored in vain... not because of any goodness, strength or ability of mine, but because Jesus is the Author and FINISHER (hallelujah!) of my faith. As such, we purpose in our hearts to stay awake, to stand fast, and to keep on keeping on, trusting that His Holy Spirit will do in and through us exactly what He wants to do.

Great post. Thank you for the warning and the encouragement.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pastor Michael,

I'm catching up on your blog postings, after traveling and being offline for awhile. This is my "church" attendance for today (Sunday), because I've not yet found a self-proclaimed "Bible-based" local church that doesn't still cling to at least one unscriptural pet doctrine. And the "pastors" will preach about almost anything except sin, repentance, and the need for a savior. I thank God for you, Michael, because yours is the one place I still visit regularly in order to be fed. You are truer to the scriptures than anyone I know of; you don't put esoteric "spin" on the Word as so many ministers are doing, or search for endless layers of symbolism, codes, and such. You expound on the plain meaning, which is so nourishing to my famished soul.

Thank you especially for your "Inactive" post, which I will copy and keep handy to read again. This particular message is profoundly meaningful to me, as I reflect back on all the times I've tried, out of love for their souls, to alert family and acquaintances to certain conditions in their lives which are keeping them off the narrow way that leads to Life. It matters not how delicately or directly one speaks to them; the reaction is almost invariably, "You are judgmental, holier-than-thou, unloving, unprogressive, etc." But when you see people you love fornicating, or openly displaying lust, idolatrous materialism, or the like, what do you do? An honest Christian conscience can't bear to watch loved ones trotting down the broad road to their doom. So I do speak up, although usually it gets me nothing but a figurative kick in the teeth and the loss of their support and companionship. I can't live with my conscience when I try to keep quiet. But even if the whole world goes against me, I still have Jesus Christ, and "His grace is sufficient for me."

Bless you, dear Michael. Please keep on doing what you're doing!

Melanie