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Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place.13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. – Genesis 19:12-14
Who would you warn? If you had moments to sound the alarm, who would you first call? Second? Third? And what if your warning went unheeded? Almost every parent has struggled with that last issue: What if your warnings go unheeded? Hopefully you have not failed to warn that special loved one of the dangers that are out there. Destruction. Deceit. Death. Damnation. Ugh…that last one: damnation. Must we talk of that?
Some people, for fear of rejection or other loss simply don’t speak up. They don’t want to look silly in the eyes of others. They don’t want to sacrifice relationships for the sake of a clear witness. They don’t want to sound extremist, or alarmist. Or fanatical. Maybe I’m one of those people.
I haven’t always been. In college I took my Bible to a philosophy class and shared Jesus’ words from Matthew 5. I was jeered at and summarily dismissed. The girl I was really interested in dating told me, “Don’t be a fanatic, Dave.” That hurt. I’ve had other times when I’ve sounded the alarm, and it had short-term success. But it was short term, and I abandoned the clarion call – for reasons only God can ultimately judge. More recently Diane and I have had conversations with a family member or two about Jesus, faith, grace, and godly living. We’ve not been shown the fullest extent of our effectiveness. We do at least hold on to hope that we will see the impact of God’s word.
But I’ll stand first in the line of those wiling to admit that I’ve not been as bold or challenging as I might have been in every situation. I’m thinking of friends in my photo club. I’m wondering about neighbors. Maybe the opportunity will someday come.
And I think of my sister. She died 10 years ago. I wish I had known she was so close to death’s door. She was a believer. I have not worries about her eternal wellbeing. She believed in Jesus. She shared his grace and truth with her friends and family. She lit up the room when she smiled, or when she reminded me of a need for greater tenderness toward my wife. But she died too soon. And I didn’t have the opportunity simply to be with her as much as I wish I had.
Not every missed opportunity is that of calling someone to repentance. Not every failure to speak up is a failure to speak truth to power. Or truth and grace to a friend, family member, or a loved-one. Even if they reject the message – the clarion call to repentance or the precious message of grace – we must take every opportunity to speak the truth in love to all with whom we have the opportunity to do so.
That’s what God did 2000 years ago. In sending Jesus he spoke truth and grace in bold strokes. May I personally urge you to listen to his voice, and learn of his message? Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). And if you want a very personable interpretation of his message check out The Chosen, a remarkable TV series that brings the message of Jesus into real-life situations. Not everyone will hear and heed his word. But those who do are eternally blessed. Imagine your own joy as you see that word taking root!