001. Speak Up

No lifeguard on duty. Danger high voltage. Beware of dog.

If there’s a physical danger, we put up a sign in bright yellow or orange or red. Reflective, angular with exclamation points. Watch out. Hazard up ahead. Slippery when wet. And in case you don’t get the picture, here’s an image of a stick figure experiencing a gruesome death by blunt force trauma or electrocution.

It’s an act of love to spell out the dangers of certain courses of action. To help others avoid pain and tragedy by pulling the fire alarm, or just a simple, “careful, that plate is hot.”

But as has happened in every arena, what is good is now called evil. And vice versa.

In many cases, the Christian Church has buckled under the pressure to stay quiet. To let the world world without any warning offered.

We’ve developed a fear of saying anything that divides. Which puts us at odds with the Christ that says He came to bring division to the Earth.

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12

Under the threat of being called judgmental, we’ve zipped our lip. For fear of losing relationships, we’ve edited our gospel. In many circumstances, we’ve begun to convince ourselves that the danger isn’t quite as bad as we had previously thought, and our words of warning probably wouldn’t accomplish much anyways. It’s not worth the risk of losing our accepting reputation.

Christian mothers and fathers need to speak up. Grandfathers and grandmothers in our churches need to tell it like it is. The church needs to deliver the truth clearly and unapologetically.

The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The words we say have the power to shine the light of God onto someone’s life. Ephesians speaks of certain words “giving grace to those who hear.”

What are these words? Truth spoken in love. Gracious words, seasoned with salt. Words that pull people to the Lord. Jesus’s words like, “repent and believe the gospel,” “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” and “the kingdom of God is at hand.”

The main reason the early church martyrs were killed was because they refused to stop preaching. Their message was rejected, and yet they still preached. They were threatened, and yet the word of their testimony was not silenced. They loved not their lives to death.

Is that sort of boldness possible today? Can we have the courage to faithfully deliver the call of Christ to the world, amidst ridicule and accusation?

I’m not talking about shouting “Jesus loves you” in the middle of a crowded movie theater. I’m not saying that every conversation you have with unbelievers needs to be about Jesus.

I’m asking, when it’s time to speak, will we? Scripture calls us God’s ambassadors, who’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we’ve been employed by the King, and given the mission to plead with those around us, “come back to God!”

Do we plead? Do we even bring it up?

It’s a sin of omission to know we should speak, but instead keep our mouths closed to “keep the peace.” As it says in Ecclesiastes, there’s a time to keep silent, and there’s a time to speak. Will we be able to open our mouths when it comes time?

“Oh, they know what I think…” Do they? Your silence is sending a message about what you believe whether you like it or not. Does the passion, urgency and frequency of your gospel message convey that you think this is a life and death matter?

“It’s not my place…” Are you sure? The Lord’s given you a message and a mission. On judgment day, when you’re standing face to face with Jesus, what will you say that you did with the message of the gospel?

“Unity is the most important thing…” It’s really not. Knowing God is the most important thing.

And unity does not mean that we sweep our disagreements under the rug and act like there’s nothing wrong. Unity means coming together around the thing that unifies us. If that’s not the real gospel of Jesus, we’re in the wrong crowd. The Tower of Babel is a great picture of ungodly unity. And a prophetic picture of the ultimate end such anti-God efforts have.

Jesus shares this parable of good and bad trees:

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12

What’s the fruit that determines the state of our heart? Our words. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

And what will be be judged by? Our words. Were they evil? Were they empty? Was there any truth to them? Or were we just spitting out the lies that the world wants to hear from us?

Here’s the truth:

God is your maker. He made everything that exists. And He made it with purpose and intent. The only way to discover and live that purpose is by living with Him.

God is the righteous judge. He’s going to set things right. And if you’re guilty of breaking any of His righteous laws, then “setting things right” involves your punishment and destruction.

God is love. And in His kindness and mercy, He created a single path that you can take back to Him. That path involves His Son Jesus receiving the punishment that you deserved.

Jesus is the only way. Many will say that this is a “free gift” but the reality is that it’s only free in that the comparison of what we give to what we receive is so out of balance, it might as well be free. But the cost is your life. This is what the way of Jesus looks like:

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Mark 8

The way of Jesus means losing your life for the sake of the gospel. And in return, we receive an eternal life that reveals that the life we were living before was actually death.

Speaking up for the gospel is worth it. It’s worth whatever retribution the world throws back. It’s worth the risk of being misunderstood. It’s worth the loss of relationships and the feeling of awkwardness.

Speak up, Church!