[The Lord declares] “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from My mouth, you shall give them warning from Me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” -Ezekiel 3:17-19
The culture of this world has never been a friend to faith. You may think today’s culture is absolutely the most hostile to faith of any time in history, but you would be wrong. Just think again of Noah’s day to clarify this point. Be that as it may, today is no cakewalk for the faith.
This is a more than worse environment in which to make your Lord known to others. There are so often many of your spiritual thoughts and your Christian worldview which you purposefully stifle for fear of offense to others or to avoid castigation from a hostile world. Testifying about your faith is perhaps the last thing you want to do in the public marketplace.
Too many Christian brothers and sisters have expressed a caution to me against speaking boldly to many of their non-Christian friends about their faith. Their vocation and career choices have put them in the center of a quite secular, unbelieving world, and it is very important to them to retain such friendships in this world. Christians really should seek such friends.
Yet, these brothers and sisters will often say they are building bridges bit by careful bit in which they hope one day to broach the full subject of their faith to particular unbelieving friends. However, they say it takes time, it takes nuance, and it takes the perfect moment and circumstance. But what if those precision points never materialize? What if you remain silent beyond it being too late?
In Athens, the Apostle Paul wisely and congenially found a commonality with his unbelieving audience in a monument he discovered that was dedicated to “an unknown god.” He captivated his audience as he referred to this monument; he very definitely got their attention. Yet he still ended up alienating many of them when he spoke of the pillar doctrines of the gospel, those things that set Christianity apart from the religions of the world. On the other hand, a good number of his hearers received the truth gladly and became genuine believers. His clear, convicting presentation of the gospel produced eternal fruit.
You probably have much more time to nuance your friends over the course of your life than Paul did in his short Athenian visit, yet your period of time may become such a long stretch that any end point is eventually forgotten and the gospel simply never gets shared. Your methods, once considered to be a valid approach, just peter out. Is this what God’s Word encourages of you?
Ezekiel 3, out of many such texts in Scripture, suggests otherwise. It claims you are surely placing “blood on your hands.” You desire to build bridges to the perfect opportunity, but instead your bridges become bridges to nowhere, and the accountability subsequently accrues to your hands. Does this Ezekiel call of Scripture penetrate your consciousness?
You have the Word of God! It is filled with warning. Those who do not accept this Word as true, those who do not come to God through Jesus really will die! You must remember, however, that you are never alone as a solitary watchman, as a sole witness to the saving gospel message.
The Spirit of God always accompanies you in your endeavor to witness to the truth. He provides the words, He awakens your memory, He gives you boldness, and He opens or closes the hearts of your hearers. Such is never up to you!
Your own will, though, must purpose to speak the faith which dwells in you. Silence is never an option for the faithful follower of Jesus. The Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” In other words, your feet take you to a place to plant yourself in front of those who must hear. Your feet take you wherever your voice can speak and your voice may be heard.
In a real sense, you are to become the incessant feet of the “Hound of Heaven” described in Francis Thompson’s great poem about Jesus seeking His own, inexorably, indefatigably, unwearyingly following after the specific lost one, relentlessly, if need be, to his or her midnight hour. But take note, the joy of turning just one to the Savior, like Luke 15:6-7 so aptly describes, cannot be measured.
“He made me a watchman upon the city wall, and if I am a Christian, I am the least of all. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere; go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.”
(Second verse of John Wesley Work Jr.’s Christmas hymn, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” 1865)
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