Warning To Disciples Part 1: Living Dangerously
Warnings to Disciples Part 1—Living Dangerously
Have you ever wondered just how far you can get to the edge without falling off? Have you ever wondered how well your car really handles by taking a turn as fast as you can? Ever decide to stay when everyone is evacuating just to see if you can survive? Here’s one you may have done, cram for an exam—waiting to the last possible moment to get a semester of reading done in one night, trying to write that 10-page term paper the night before its due. Worse of all the question –how little or how much can I get by with and still be a Christian?
In the parables of Jesus, his stories are designed to get us to think. Some of Jesus stories are warnings. Today we’re going to consider such a parable and learn that you can play things too close for comfort. As disciples, we need to take care of business before it’s too late.
The scripture proclaims: “…everyone must die once and be judged… (Heb 9:27 (NCV). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10 (NIV). “…each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12 (NIV).
1 Corinthians 3:9-15 (NCV)
We are God’s workers, working together; ... Using the gift God gave me, I [Paul] laid the foundation of that house like an expert builder. Others are building on that foundation, but all people should be careful how they build on it. The foundation that has already been laid is Jesus Christ, and no one can lay down any other foundation. But if people build on that foundation, using gold, silver, jewels, wood, grass, or straw, their work will be clearly seen, because the Day of Judgment will make it visible. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work to show what sort of work it was. If the building that has been put on the foundation still stands, the builder will get a reward. But if the building is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire.
The scripture indicates that we must give an accounting of how we used the gifts God gave us. What we did with the opportunities afforded us by His grace will be examined. I recently read a list of one pastor’s suggestions as to the type of questions that will be asked. When I got done reading I said to myself, I said Mike, good thing it’s by grace you are saved because you’re not up to speed in a lot of these areas. Tough read. I don’t want to be the builder who barely escapes from the fire.
The escape is possible in the first place because you came to the place in your life when you acknowledged that your sins, the things that you have done that deterred, damaged or destroyed right relationships, has alienated you from God. You discovered you were lost in the wilderness of life, that you need to make a change, that life had become more difficult than you imagined. After acknowledging that you were a stranger to God, you came to believe that Jesus is come to make things right, both between you and God and within yourself. Jesus atoned for your sin, Jesus is the mediator gave you the opportunity to reconcile your estrangement from God. Having acknowledged and believed in gratitude you committed yourself to live as a disciple of Jesus, learning how to continue His work in this world through yourself. Finally, you asked God to accept your faith. God gave you access to the only foundation to build your life upon that will last through all eternity.
Do you have access to this foundation, are you a disciple of Jesus? If not then right now search your heart, do you feel that this is something that you want, that you need. That feeling only comes from God calling to you, inviting you to live your life to the full. Act on it. Grab this opportunity right now, don’t put it off; your eternal destiny rests on your decision.
As a disciple of Christ, a follower of Jesus, a student of scripture, motivated by love, the choices you make, the things that you do, are the building materials that are used to build your life. The quality materials are the gold, silver, and jewels, the inferior materials are the wood, grass, and straw.
The quality materials are found in love-motivated obedience. Loving God is quality material, scripture tells us that love for God is obeying His commands (1 John 5:3). Loving others is quality material, meeting their need at the cost of personal sacrifice. Loving self is quality material, growing deep spiritually, growing up spiritually, growing fruit spiritually by keeping in step with God. Loving the earth is quality material, it's being a good steward and wise manager of all the blessings God has given you.
The inferior materials are found in the indifference to living a devout and holy life. Jesus said: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelations 3:15-16 (NIV). The way you choose to live if it brings no healing to others, no refreshment to others, neither hot nor cold your building with inferior materials. Words and beliefs are wind if there are no deeds to support them.
How much time do you have left to build with quality materials? Do you know how much time you have before you have to give an account?
Jesus told everyone this parable:
Luke 12:54-59 (MSG)
Then [Jesus] turned to the crowd: "When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, 'Storm's coming'—and you're right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, 'This'll be a hot one'—and you're right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don't tell me you can't tell a change in the season, the God-season we're in right now.
"You don't have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you'd use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you'd probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That's the kind of decision I'm asking you to make."
This is not a story to teach us that it is best to settle out of court, even though doing so is very wise and if you are in such a situation it's most likely better for you to mediate instead of litigate. The assumption here is that you have a bad case and things are going to go against you. In Jesus day it was almost impossible for you to pay debt while in prison, so you were going to sit and rot.
Jesus calls those who would be his disciples to situational awareness. Beware of what is happening so you can see what’s coming. Know the time in which you are in. Know what will shortly be upon you. I want to share with you what I see coming. There will be trouble and challenges to deal with, financial, spiritual, taking care of Grant, providing for my family. My body will most likely fail me, I will not be able to physically or mentally what I can do now. Persecution will most likely confront me as the culture continues to demonize Christianity. Finally, I expect that one day I will die. Now those are four negative expectations of what is coming. There are also some positives, I will continue to love and be loved, I will continue to be a positive influence on others, my circle of friends will expand, I will continue to mature in Christ. Preparing for and building towards those expectations is what I need to be doing today.
By waiting till the last moment is to live dangerously. Your work is going to be judged. Take care of business before you enter the courtroom because then things are taken out of your hands. Take care of business along the way. Don’t wait till the last moment, get on with the good work, using quality materials. Salvation is always a call to service, to love, to give what you have been given. “Development of an authentic Christian lifestyle is not always possible at the last minute.” (Dan Seagren). The odds are against you if you think you can build with quality in little time and with little effort.
I fear that most Christians have no idea what God wants them to do. Not by choice but by default they live in such a way as to get the best of two worlds, the blessings of heaven and the trinkets of the world. God is a part of their lives but not their life such that all that they do comes from a passion fueled by love and gratitude for what God has done for them. So unknowingly the build there lives with inferior material that will not pass inspection. They have good beliefs, good words, but sorely lacking in good deeds. Worse when they do have good deeds but done for the wrong reasons, they serve out of insecurity with anxiety, hoping that they are good enough. That’s not building with quality materials either.
Have you ever heard of the seven habits of a disciple? It’s through these seven habits that you discover what God wants you to do, you learn how to build with quality material. The seven habits are reading and studying the scripture, prayer, fellowship, service, worship, obedience and contemplation. It’s through your engagement with these habits that you learn to discern between quality and inferior building material. Not to do so is to live dangerously, taking an unnecessary risk, and being reckless with your life.
Steven Covey impressed me with the idea that there are important but non-urgent things that seem never to get done because they are not urgent, there is no alarm going off, there is no fire to put out, no demanding of our attention. Even though these things, like building with quality is important, vitally important, we allow other things that are not important but urgent to take our time.
Do the important things, build on the foundation of faith in Christ with quality material. Jesus’ legal advice is sound, but the point of His parable is don’t wait to the last moment to take care of business, don’t fail to tend to the most important things now. Can you see what time it is?