Heeding the Warnings

April 5, 2012

These days people are offended when you warn them.  They would rather have their feelings smoothed over than to avoid the calamity they are about to experience.

So we are offended at the doctor who suggests we need to lose weight; we are offended at the policeman who suggests we endanger human life when we flout the rules of the road; we are offended at the politician who suggests we should sacrifice rather than grab entitlements for the good of the country.

As Wilfred Owen once put it, “All the poet can do is warn.”

You can get annoyed at the weatherman, but you had better also get the umbrella if he says it’s going to rain.

The Bible, too, is full of warnings. These are not the popular sections of scripture.

“Except you repent,” Jesus cried out, “you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). So will we become peeved and perish?

“Whoever does not believe,” he warns, “will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). So will we believe and be baptized, or will we face condemnation?

Consequences for sin are real. Eternal punishment is real. God’s anger towards the unrepentant is real!

Sometimes a prophet shouts from the rooftops to convey his message. Sometimes he whispers his warning, even in tears. Paul did: “Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night and day to admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31).

I remember a conversation when one speaker declared: “I like that church (the one she had just joined) because they don’t ask me to change anything in my life!”  Really? Was she implying that she did not need to change anything? Or that she resented the implication that she needed to change? Or that God requires no change in our lives? Beware the church that does not ask you to change! To repent is to change; to be converted is to change; to become a Christian is to change; to grow spiritually is to change!

We need warnings; we need to change. We will probably not do the second until we hear the first.

-Stan Mitchell

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