Thursday, August 23, 2012

Storms, Destruction, and the Unknown

As I write this, Tropical Storm Isaac is bearing down on the Florida coast. It has been 7 years since the last hurricane made landfall in Florida. That means that many residents have no idea what to expect from a hurricane because they have never been through one. Add to this mix, the national Republican convention is meeting this year in Tampa, and that is going to be next week. Already, there are models that bring the storm right through the Tampa area, and it is predicted to arrive in the middle of that convention.

If there in one thing that most of us know who have lived on the coast, actuality rarely follows prediction. That means we cannot predict with much certainty where Isaac will make landfall, how strong it will be, or what kind of damage it will do. Uncertainty is what creates fear-filled atmosphere. I have believed since Hurricane Hugo that we should prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and let God take care of the results.

Although we may not know what tropical storms may do, there is a greater destruction that we can be sure of. Destruction is looming for anyone who does not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. There, I said it. I know it's not tolerant of other religions. I know that leaves out everyone who doesn't believe in God. I know that even many Christians no longer trust the words of Jesus Christ who said that many are on their way to destruction when He said very clearly:

Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. (Matthew 7:13 HCSB)

You see, when there is assured destruction, it is a good thing to go to the One who knows the answers. One Who has been there and back, and One Who has come back from the dead to tell us the truth.

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish-ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27, 28 HCSB)

You say, "I do believe that. I was taught good theology since I first trusted Christ." To everyone of us that say that, I have to ask, do you really? It is much more likely that we have acknowledged a religious opinion with our mind, but if our actions don't bear it out, I have to ask, do we really believe? What I mean is if we really believed with our inmost being that people who don't know Jesus Christ on a "He died and rose again for me" level were going to eternal destruction, we would do everything in our power to make sure they knew Jesus came, died, and rose again to give them eternal life. Our lives would be driven by it. Our activities would be built around it. Our resources, including our money, would be used to share that life-changing message with everyone we came into contact with. And, when people called us a fanatic, we would wear that badge proudly, knowing they are hearing the message of exclusive eternal life found in Jesus Christ alone.

For most Christians, the cost is too great. It was General William Booth of the Salvation Army that shared his thoughts on why most Christians do not ever bear witness to Christ:

A young Christian once came to me, and told me that for some time she had been giving the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give Him her life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go to His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another struggling in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts and leaps to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing and praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares about other people's opinions, your love of ease and all the selfish loves that have kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying men and women. Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it, means difficulty and scorn and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who beckons you from the sea however, knows what it will mean - and knowing, He still calls to you and bids to you to come. You must do it! You cannot hold back.

We are told that we are responsible to advance the faith wherever we are in His world. Paul was sold out to the message of Christ, and gave his life in order to tell more people of Christ. Now, he wanted the Roman church, which was at the center of the ancient world to understand their place in God's kingdom. Now, those same words shout from the shores of safety to the sea of destruction. So, as he laid his pen down in the final verses of Romans, he is asking us to pick up the gauntlet:

Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation about Jesus Christ...according to the command of the eternal God to advance the obedience of faith among all nations (Romans 16:25, 26 HCSB)

Do you authentically, passionately believe? Then you will tell someone.

Pastor Trey Rhodes

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