Monday, September 19, 2011

I Never Dreamed

For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
- Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:35-37)

Jesus Christ said some pretty shocking things during His time on earth. The passage I have quoted above is certainly one of the most disturbing. In it Jesus stated that His coming would bring division between the most intimate family relationships – division so intense that it would make the members of one's own household his enemies. For years I thought – wished perhaps – that Jesus was merely being hyperbolic. I recently discovered that He was not.

Last week, the Lord directed me to study Ezekiel 33. In that passage the Lord told Ezekiel that He was making him a watchman for Israel. God told Ezekiel that if He sent a warning through him and he failed to deliver it to the people then Ezekiel would be responsible for their failure to respond, but if he delivered the message and the people ignored it their calamity was on their own head. I felt that God was giving me the same charge.

A few days later God called me to deliver an important message to someone who is very close to me. They have been openly engaged in sin and effectively asked me to endorse it. I reminded the individual of my position and the reason why I could not approve. I explained the hope of the gospel to them and encouraged them to repent and turn to God. They were offended. I got unfriended (on Facebook). And from what I have heard some less than kind words were spoken about me.

I'll be honest, it makes me sad. I had hoped that the individual would be born again. Unfortunately, it went the other direction. I suppose it could have been a lot worse. I hope it won't be, but the violent reaction I got made me wonder just how this person will respond if they continue down the path they have taken much longer. I love this individual and really hope that one day our relationship can be restored.

As much as I desire that, there are some things that I cannot compromise: I cannot endorse something that the Bible calls sin, and I cannot allow a person to walk in sin without warning them.

I love this person too much to allow them to believe that their sin is OK. I cannot withhold the truth when directly confronted by the deception that they are living under. A person may think that a stick of dynamite is a candle, but if I let them walk around with a lit stick to find their way I am not loving them as I should. If I don't try to stop them their destruction is certain. Thus it is with sin.

The Bible tells that there is coming a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, but will seek teachers that will tell them what they want to hear, leading them away into deception (2 Timothy 4:3-4). As Christians it is our duty to hold the line and not compromise the message of the Bible. That doesn't mean that we have to be hateful. In fact, it would be best if we're not. We are to speak the truth in love. Does it guarantee that we won't still be hated and reviled as ignorant? No. Jesus always spoke the truth in love and they crucified Him. The Bible tells us that we will become a fragrance to all we encounter – to some we'll be the beautiful fragrance of Christ but to others the stench of death. It will all depend on the path they are taking.

We must be willing to stand unblinking before the wrath of the spirits controlling those we love and desire to see born again. We must hold up the mirror of the Word before them so that they know their true condition and recognize their need for the radical change that can only come from the Savior. We must keep loving them even though they think we are the enemy. And we must believe that God will get through to them eventually as we pray and hold the line against their deception. Never quit! He is mighty to save.

I never dreamed that Jesus' words in Matthew 10 would be true for me. But I was wrong.