Friday, February 27, 2015

Listening to the Warnings ................. Parables 241

(October 31, 1990)

A few weeks ago we were driving along the trans-Canada highway when I noticed a few cattle in a barley field. They had somehow breached the fence and escaped their adjacent pasture.

I told my husband and he quickly turned at the next corner and drove about a mile to the nearest farm house. We both knew what a belly full of grain can do to the critter who eats it. As we entered the driveway, a young girl, perhaps in her early teens, was in the yard playing with three very tiny kittens. I wondered if she would care.

As soon as he told her about the cattle, she said, “Those belong to our neighbor.” She said thank you, smiled, and hurried inside to the telephone.

After we left, I wondered about the reaction. It wasn’t even her cows, but if it had been, I’m sure she would have done the same thing: quickly thanked us and remedied the problem. I’m quite certain it didn’t enter her head to say, “It is none of your business” or “That’s your opinion” or “I don’t believe you.” Not only that, the owner of the cows would gladly receive her call, even though he would be concerned about his animals.

We saw the danger, reported it to the person we thought responsible, and she took action. It seems so normal. But it isn’t always the way those in danger react to a warning. As a Christian, I occasionally encounter someone who reacts to the gospel with “My life is none of your business...”

Some think that we are our brother’s keeper only when physical life is threatened or material loss is at stake. If their house is on fire, they want to know, but if their soul is threatened, “look the other way, thank you very much.”

Oddly enough, most of us comply. We don’t tell others what we know.  We have the assurance of eternal life... why care about those who don’t care about themselves? In spite of the expressions of urgency all through the Bible and in spite of Jesus telling us to warn people and be quick to do so, whether it is convenient for us or not, the fact of the matter is that it is inconvenient and easier not to bother.

We might get the response that our message is just our opinion -- but it isn’t. Actually, we used to feel the same response to it, that our way was okay and the Christian message about sin and salvation was just somebody’s opinion. Then God grabbed us by the heart and let us see the reality of what He says.  Our opinion changed... and became the same as His “opinion” -- “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.” We know there is genuine danger; people need to be told or there will be loss.

Of course people are free to make their own decisions. They may choose not to believe what they hear. Their decision won’t change the truth of it -- if the teenager did not believe us, or had we not told her, the cattle would still be in the grain, and maybe even made their grave there.

Occasionally we hear of someone who died because they refused to believe they needed medical help; Jim Henson is one example. His death was so needless. Spiritual death is just like that. There is no reason to suffer the consequences of sin when God so graciously provided a way to escape. No one needs to go into eternity without Christ, separated from Him forever... unless of course they ignore the warnings and make that choice.

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