Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gripped By Eternity

It is a beautiful spring day with beautiful clear skies, a light breeze, and just a hint of the cool of night still lingering in the morning air. You hear a knock at the door and go to answer it. You find a nicely dressed young man with a warm smile who speaks with utmost calm: "Hi, my name is Jason Jones. Do you have time to talk?"

You've never met the young man, but he seems pleasant enough. You invite him inside, offer him refreshments, and settle into a nice conversation about current events and the weather. He slowly warms up to his intended topic and calmly and casually says: "There is a tsunami coming to our city this morning. It is already on its way. A group of us are forming a group to talk about it and what we should do."

You stare at the young man in disbelief as he quietly sips his coffee, the warm smile still present on his features. There is no fear and no urgency in his voice.

"Um... when is it supposed to arrive?" you ask, puzzled.

"Any minute now," he replies with a shrug. He certainly doesn't look overly concerned as he glances at your table and picks up a copy of Sports Illustrated to peruse the latest articles. "Did you catch last night's game?"

Confused, you do your best to assess the situation. Perhaps the tsunami is quite small and poses no danger to you or your family. You are about 10 feet above sea level, after all, and more than a mile from the coast. Or maybe it is a concern for someone else, and they are looking to perform a rescue attempt for those who are in danger. But no... he is far too calm for that. He must be pulling your leg. His actions certainly do not reflect that he considers himself in any danger.

At that moment, there is a sudden and loud pounding at the door. "Open up! Open up!" You scramble to the door to respond to the urgent, almost panicked voice.

"What is going on?" You ask as the speaker stumbles inside. He is pale, and his eyes are wide with excitement fueled by fear. He is breathing heavily and sweating. It is clear that he has been running.

"Tsunami! Coming down the street!" he pants quickly. "You all need to get out now and get to higher ground."

"Should I grab my coat?" you reply with your lingering doubts planted by the young man behind you (who is now holding your remote control and flipping through the channels).

"There is no time! It is just around the corner and moving fast!" the newcomer responds, grabbing at your arm and starting to drag you out the door. Gripped by his urgency (as well as his tight grasp), all uncertainty and doubt is erased. This man certainly believes a tsunami is coming with a certainty of one who has actually seen it and what it can do. Further, to remain here with even the possibility of his story being true would be folly and could likely cost you your life.

Seeing that you are now following him, he nods and turns to run. "I've got to go tell the others. I'll go down the other side of the street; you tell those on this side. We have to save them while we can!"

You glance back at the first young man as you step out the door. "Are you coming?"

"I think I'll watch this show for a bit," he replies with a sigh. "I'll catch up with you later."

So what is the point of this little tale? There is a tsunami coming to take us all away. It is called death and Hell. If we remain where we are, we will be swept away in the current and dragged out to the sea. But if we follow Jesus Christ, he will lead us to higher ground and to safety. Do we believe this? Do we believe that those who do not follow Jesus Christ will die and face eternal torment in Hell?

Or are we like the young man above who doesn't feel the urgency of his message? There is no fear of what is to come; neither for others or even for ourselves. We mentally ascent to the truth of scripture, but it doesn't result in any discernible change in our lifestyle.

Is it any wonder that so few believe the message when those who bring it behave as if it has no real bearing on their life at all? In fact, can the messenger themselves even honestly say they believe when that knowledge is not evident in what they do in their day-to-day living?

The truth of the Gospel is transforming in both its radical revelation of the reality of judgement and the awe and wonder of a loving God desiring a relationship with those who will follow Him to their salvation. While it may not be as urgent as the example above, it is infinitely more important as our eternal destiny is at stake. And we never know when a real tsunami (or a city bus) might bring our life to an end. Are we prepared for the eternity that awaits? Have we prepared those around us as well?

Lord, give us eyes for eternity and a burden for those who face certain peril. May we speak with the proper gravity and urgency to save them from their doom.

"Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!" (Matthew 7:24-27 NET)

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