Do you trust in Jesus to forgive and save you? Great! But what about everyone else–are you doing your job, your duty, your commission towards them? Because if we claim we love Him–if we’re really His–God has automatically and by default assigned us the responsibility of being His standard-bearer–speaking out for what God says; for what is true and right and good–whether we like it or not, whether we want to or not.
If we don’t, God holds us guilty–because we can’t simply curl up bolted inside the safety of Jesus Christ and ignore the ignorance, clamor, pain, and ultimately death outside!
“Once again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man [human being, basically], give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’
“Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel 33:1-9 NLT)
Today’s verses are from the Old Testament book of Exekiel, a prophet–a man God selected to speak what He told him to His nation, Israel. Sounds great, right? Not really.
I think being a prophet had to be one of the most difficult assignments God ever gave anyone. The point is that what God told Ezekiel (and the other prophets He chose at various points to speak His messages) was almost always not what people wanted to hear, and it did not endear the prophets to them.
They wanted to hear, “Hey guys, you’re doing great; I love you so much I’m going to bless you and cause you to become prosperous beyond your wildest dreams!” What they got was, “You’re sinning, people; start paying attention to me or seriously, I’m going to destroy you.” Not a happy message, and certainly not one for which they would welcome the messenger.
This effectively made God’s prophets hated, if not outcast. They rained on the parade and spoiled the fun. They gave a depressing, sad message–a message no one wanted to hear. And you know the hardest part–they couldn’t do differently! Because it wasn’t their message; because these were God’s words–they couldn’t change it, without risk of God’s judgment on them! They could never be popular or liked or accepted or loved. How does this apply to us today?
Well, because if we’re Jesus Christ’s, we’re His prophets today–His messengers, His voice, those who are assigned the unenviable task of speaking a difficult and unwelcome message for which most will almost certainly hate us.
Yes, there’s the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t physically speak–someone has to actually preach it! Of course, if you sit down and read it, God’s Word never fails to accomplish everything God intended it to, but how many today sit down and read it?? How many take the time to search for God? No. God has assigned us who know Him–His holiness, His goodness–the task of being His standard-bearer; of speaking up for what He says. It isn’t all right and good and basically irrelevant–some things are really, really wrong. We must teach and preach what God says, even if we aren’t loved for it.
So what do we do? Just imagine you’re a city’s watchman tasked with sounding a warning when there is danger. So when you see danger–sound that warning! Don’t keep quiet, hoping it’ll go away, hoping it’ll end up okay. If anything happens to someone, God will hold us accountable that we didn’t warn them! Conversely, once we do warn them, if they choose to ignore the warning it’ll be very bad for them, but God will no longer hold us accountable for not passing His message along.
This means that the Christian voices we hear are heroes–the Franklin Grahams and others; the ones who are willing to be maligned by culture and ill-spoken of rather than judged by God for not sounding an alarm.
Want popularity? Don’t become a Christian. Because if you’re faithful, the rest of the world probably won’t like you too much.
Help me do all things through You, who strengthen me! Amen.