2002-07-24 - Unsafe Message
Encore from 2000-10-13
Mark 8:33-34 (NLT) Jesus turned and looked at his disciples and then said to Peter very sternly, "Get away from me, Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from Gods." Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me."
I once made the statement in a devotional, that the church should be a safe place to hear an unsafe message. A few of you wanted to know why the Gospel is an "unsafe message." The Gospel is unsafe because it's so countercultural and so incredibly counterintuitive. It is a message that cuts to the core of our selfish, humanistic desires. Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek. Return good for evil. The first will be last. They pooled their resources so there were no needs among them. There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, etc.
Hearing the Gospel requires a response. One cannot listen to the Message and be passive. You either reject the message or accept it.
Luke 11:23 (NASB) He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
The Gospel is a radical message, which redirects and transforms human life from the very core of that life, and the world (sin and flesh) is going to fight against that until the last breath. Recently I sat with tears rolling down my face, as a 43-year old man was baptized. Our church had given this man a safe place to come to hear this unsafe message. We accepted his rough edges -- his drug and alcohol addiction and his homelessness. We extended love to him and gave him the opportunity to go into a rehabilitation program that is based on the Gospel. He came out as a transformed man. None of his old "friends" were there this weekend. But after the baptism, his new family of believers spontaneously stood up and gave glory to God with a standing ovation. We were celebrating with the angels of Heaven.
The Gospel is an unsafe message, because one Man gave His entire life to proclaiming it, and the cost was His life, as many of His followers have since found out. The Gospel is unsafe because of its revolutionary nature and its commitment to radically changing the world into a redeeming and loving place.
I will continue to believe that the Gospel is a very unsafe message, but I'm committed to inviting people into a "safe" place, which to me means a place where a person is accepted wherever they are, but never left there. Pastors, teachers and believers should present the unchanging, radical and unsafe message in relevant and applicable ways, in hopes that people will give their lives to it and be redirected toward a Christ-filled eternity.
I love to snow ski. I will never forget the time I skied all day without a single fall. As I boasted about my perfect and safe day of skiing to a former instructor, he simply replied, "You did not ski hard enough?" What he meant was that I stayed in my comfort zone. I did not stretch or push myself. The question for you today is, "are you a safe Christian or an unsafe Christian?"
Are you going outside the comfort zone of church and living unsafely?
Are you saying no to the boss who wants you to take your best client to a topless bar? Are you saying no to the client that wants you to do something in a gray area? Are you saying no to the classmate who wants you to try smoking or to "try this drug, just one time?" Are you saying no and telling them that these actions conflict with the value system in the Bible, by which you live? Are you stepping it up a notch when God places people in your life who need to hear this unsafe message? Or are you just blending in with the people around you?
Father - help us to be unsafe Christians. Help us not to just blend in with society. Help us to take risks for You. Guide us and direct us in all that we do. In Christ's name, the name of the One Who paid the ultimate price and lived the unsafe life for us to follow, Amen.