Thursday, February 14, 2013

On The Straight and Narrow

My heart has been very heavy over the last few weeks, so I haven’t been writing much.  I have been reflecting, fasting, and praying about this situation.  Currently, my heart lays into millions of broken pieces about a close friend’s decision.  It’s not easy to watch your friend take unhealthy steps in her life.  Yet, as a friend I have pleaded and cried for her to realize the danger of her choices but she is ignoring my voice.  So, I have left her in only the capable hands I know-Gods.  Nevertheless, I haven’t stopped praying for the situation to change; it’s my only hope. 

Choices come with a price tag; they have consequences to pay.  God always sent a prophet to warn the people before He sent wrath but it wasn’t always heeded to.   As the prophets declared the truth, many were executed or persecuted for it.  The famous prophet Isaiah was sawed physically in half for his message.   Another prophet Jeremiah was beaten, put into prison, and falsely accused.  Tragically, our own Savior was treated disrespectfully, false accused, beaten, and crucified for sharing the message of the Father. (Matthew 21:26-38)  So, we shouldn’t be surprised about being persecuted for declaring the truth.  Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)  It’s not always easy to preach the truth of God’s Word because it can cost us some close relationships.  As children of God our standards can’t be compromised because our standards come from God’s Word.  God sets the bar for leadership; our lives must be above reproach or blameless. We must abstain from the appearance of evil. We have to guard our hearts, our lives, and guard the vision God gives.  Ministry is a serious business because it's not only an eternal investment; it's has have eternal rewards which will be judged. (Hebrews 9:27)  It’s a sobering thought but I don’t know if the church takes it seriously anymore.   

 I Peter 4:17 “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

If we truly love our families and our friends, we will tell the truth-the Gospel truth.  It’s not always easy to profess our faith but it’s our obligation to God and those we love.  Do we love our family or friends enough to share the truth whether if it’s for their salvation or to avoid a trap of the enemy?  Also, what happened to discipleship within the body of Christ?  Within the body of Christ there is going to be different maturity levels, so we must understand this.  As our bodies physically mature or even among the maturity of siblings, we understand this to be a natural process.  Nevertheless parents do correct, discipline, and guide their children so they can be prepared for the real world.  If we don’t train our children properly in our homes, we can lead them astray.  It’s the same within the body of Christ. It’s not pleasant or exciting to confront a brother or sister in sin but we must to restore them.  Restoration is always the goal but it must be done with gentleness, saturated in prayer, wise counsel sought, and in love.  We can't leave this one out: it has to be done face to face.  Oh, being confrontational is very difficult but it's Biblical.  Paul opposed Peter to his face because he was in the wrong. (Galatians 1:11)  Also, the Bible provides a direct model from Christ found in Matthew 18:15-20)  

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” Galatians 6:1 

“Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness; let him rebuke me--it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers” Psalm 141:5

As I tried to counsel my friend towards God’s Word, she refused it.  I didn’t counsel once but several times with no effect.  As the Lord and my husband directed me to confront her with the consequences, I was completely torn inside.  Yet, I realized if I don’t confront the situation, I am accepting it.  We must understand a powerful truth: our lives must match the Word. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” I Timothy 4:16

Our lives must match the Word of God; there is no separation.  Sadly the church has been accused of this for far too long.  It’s time to come out and be separate from the world’s ideas, beliefs, relationships, and ways.  If we are truly children of God, we will obey.  When we try to justify our actions for disobedience to God's Word, it's called deception.  “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 16:25
     God will never override our choice; He will let us decide.  Yet, He advised us of the consequences very clearly.  Out of His love a warning was given to us all.  It’s not going to be heeded by everyone, only a few. (Matthew 7:14)  We may be separated from close relationships for our choice to walk on the straight and narrow road but we are never without God.  
     As I told my children, they can't get to Heaven from my relationship with God; it's their own personal choice. We are not responsible for the choices of others but we are to be a voice of truth.  We are to preach the truth in love!  If we don't preach or extend a hand of grace to others, our faith is meaningless.  If we want to touch the lives of people; we will have to touch their heart.  Faith moves mountains but love moves people to a relationship with God.