Thursday, June 23, 2016

We are the Watchman

By now I’m sure most of you have heard about the tragedy in Orlando where 53 homosexuals, lesbians and transgender individuals were killed. And, as you also know, some of the responses were pretty typical of what you would expect to hear. When it comes to this one issue – the gay and lesbian community – there is a divide in the body of Christ.

You have Christians who say and believe that everyone has a right to choose how he or she will live – even if how they live is not in agreement with the will of God. Then you have Christians who say and believe that if the Bible says something is wrong, then you don't have the right to live that way and will condemn you to hell unless you repent.

Neither one of these positions work for God.

After hearing about the shooting, I sent out a tweet from my twitter account, which is also linked to my Facebook page. I said “Orlando was not God's punishment” with the hashtag “heart aching for Orlando”. 

Later that day I tweeted “Orlando did not make God's day. It broke his heart.” Again my hashtag was “heart aching for Orlando.” 

My last tweet of the day was “You need to understand there was no joy in heaven early Sunday morning.” My hashtags were “heart aching for Orlando” and “Don't blame God”.

After my first tweet, my cousin from Tennessee posted on my Facebook feed “You will not believe the ridicule that I'm seeing on my page.” By the tone I knew he was referring to the things Christians were saying.

I also received a post from a young lady in Texas and what she said really broke my heart. Her Facebook feed disturbed her so much that she said “I'm almost finished with being a Christian. Shaking my head.” 

My response: “one of the things I've said repeatedly over the past three or four years is that you can't judge Christianity by looking at Christians today. Jesus did not like the behavior of most of the people he dealt with but he dealt with them with love and compassion. Sadly missing in most of the body of Christ today.”

I added that instead of calling myself a Christian, I'm thinking about referring to myself as a “disciple of my master, Jesus”. She replied “anything is better. I'm ashamed to be named among many. So much hate. Christianity seems to be no different than any of any other religion. I’m out.”

Christianity is supposed to be a family.

It really bothered me to hear her say that because our father sees us as a family. He doesn't see a group of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. She’s not seeing what our Father sees and, in a way, I can understand her feelings. Truly I can. Sometimes our emotions can really get the best of us.

So I said “Sweetie, I understand but let us be the ones to show the world what it really means to be Christ-like. Let us be the ones who respond to the hatred and the judging by opening our arms wide to those who need to experience His love from people they thought didn't care.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if we don't reach out to those who are not part of the family they will never have an opportunity to be part of the family. That’s what we're supposed to do as sons and daughters.

Her last post: “I will not from this day forward be labeled as a Christian. I’m filled with love of God and I refuse to be named among those who hate.” I continue to pray for her because I know she's hurting.

Satan is dividing Christians.

Remember in Matthew where Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand? Right now, we are witnessing how Satan is causing schism in the body of Christ. One of the primary ways he's doing that is through politics. We, the body of Christ, have allowed ourselves to be given political labels in this country. You are either a liberal Democrat or a conservative Christian. Neither one of these labels are in the Bible.

Jesus never says He wants “Christians”.

Jesus says He wants “disciples”. He does not want Christians. He wants disciples. Anyone can attach to themselves the label of Christian. If you are a disciple people are going to know it. A disciple is one who tells the world that I am not above my master. What my master says is what I do. And people are not going to like it.

My prayer is that you are neither "far left" nor "far right" but that you are trying to walk the Word the way Jesus desires it to be walked. If you are, then we will have an opportunity to show the world who Jesus really is and His heart’s desire.

Most of the people who are living the homosexual, lesbian or transgender lifestyle don't think Christians love them. We have no one to blame but ourselves for allowing the enemy of the soul to get us to respond in certain ways when we hear about anything related to the homosexual community.

Recently I asked for prayer because sometimes when I hear things related to this behavior, I can feel a wall rising up in me. When I feel the wall rising up what it is doing is preventing me from showing the love of God. When you read the Gospels Jesus never criticized or marginalized those who were in sin. He always treated them with love and compassion. He saved his anger for the religious leaders who were leading the people astray.

It broke my heart when I heard that one pastor, after the Orlando tragedy, said that it was nothing more than what they had earned. It was God's judgment released upon them. Another pastor said the only thing that he regretted was that there were not more homosexuals in the night club. If they are saying these things, what do you think their congregations are saying?

These pastors told their people that the men and women deserved what happened to them in and that it was God’s judgment against them. And we wonder why the gay and lesbian community think Christians don't care about them.

Let’s be clear: "God and Son Corporation" has one mission: to seek and save the lost. I don't believe the body of Christ understands its mission. There doesn't seem to be enough love flowing out of us to override our emotions.

A life of faith is a life lived in love.

The Bible says in Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncirumcision; but faith which worketh (is activated) by love.”  If the reaction to Orlando is any indication, there is very little faith at work in the body of Christ and it goes back to those of us who are not walking in love toward those who need to experience it the most.

Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)...” Since faith is activated by love and faith is what pleases God, then what is the issue? Love is the issue. That’s lacking in the body of Christ today.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:1. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Notice the verse doesn’t say we should do these things for the body of Christ. It says we need to them for all men. In other words, the saved and the unsaved. All men (and women) are not just the people you like. All means all! If you cannot make intercession for the homosexual person, you are in sin.

Let’s continue reading with verses 2-4. “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour – and verse 4 tells us why we are to pray this way: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Our Heavenly Father's heart cries out for the lost.

After hearing of the shooting, I could see God on His throne weeping. His tears were for the men and women who died in that tragedy and had not repented of their sin or accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. God wept because they went to hell.

There was absolutely nothing but sadness in Heaven early Sunday morning. We know people who are living this lifestyle. We grew up with them. They were, and in many instances, are our friends. If we don’t show them the love of God, they might not see it from anyone else and be lost for all eternity.

It’s really about how much we love our Heavenly Father.

In First Thessalonians 3:12 the Apostle Paul writes “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” What does the Lord want us to do? He wants us to show love to those who are not yet part of the family.

In chapter 5, verse 14 we read: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” We are to be patient, not just with those who are in the family, but all men – including those who are not in the family. We are to treat them with love and compassion. If we don’t, there may not be anyone else who will.

Let’s look at an example from the Gospels. In Matthew 9:10 we read “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eatest your Master with publicans and sinners?” The religious leaders couldn’t understand why Jesus would break bread with tax collectors and sinners.

Let’s bring this passage to 2016.

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat down at meat in the house, behold, many homosexuals and lesbians came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when some of the pastors and leaders saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why does your master eat with homosexuals and lesbians? Doesn’t he know that they are sinners of the worst kind?”

Jesus’ response would have been the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Look at verses 12 and 13: “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them (the Pharisees), They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: (notice what He says next) for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In John 14:12 Jesus tells us that He wants us to duplicate the works He did when He was here on Earth. One of those “works” was reaching out to people to get them to repent. If we don’t do it ladies and gentlemen it is not going to happen.

We are the watchman.

We’re going to finish up in Ezekiel 33 where the prophet is talking about the house of Israel. There is a spiritual application for us today. In verses one and two we read: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:”

The “sword” represents the judgment that is to come. What “sword” – judgment – has been released upon the land today? Jesus tells us in John 12:46-48: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejected me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Ezekiel 33:3 says “If when he (the watchman) seeth the sword (judgment) come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people...” The watchman is to warn the people that the judgment is coming. Why? The Lord wants those sin to have an opportunity to repent.

Verses 4 and 5: “Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.” The watchman’s job is to warn the people, not judge them and not be condescending. The word “warning” means “to teach and caution.” The watchman is to help the people understand what will happen if they continue to live in sin and don’t repent.

The problem with the body of Christ

We haven’t learned how to deliver the warning with love and compassion. We have not done a good job of helping those who need to repent understand why they need to do so and why they need to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If you want someone to change, you have to help them see what needs to change and then show them how to change.

But look at what happens if the watchman does not sound the warning. “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” Let that sink in ladies and gentlemen.

Now verse 7: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel (unto your community); therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me (What I tell you to say, say it with love and compassion because it’s coming from my heart.). Do you see this? You are the watchman! If we are not the ones teaching those living the homosexual lifestyle why they need to change, God is going to hold us responsible.

Ezekiel’s job as watchman was to the house of Israel. At that time everyone was spiritually lost. Today, there are some pastors and leaders who need a watchman in their lives to show them that what they are teaching people about how to view and respond to the homosexual community is not right according to the Word of God.

God wants the wicked to repent and live, not perish.

Jump down to verse 11. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live...” Do you see this ladies and gentlemen? When the wicked repents – that brings our Heavenly Father pleasure.

Jump again. This time to verse 16. “None of his sins (the wicked, in this case the homosexual, lesbian or transgender person) that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right (heard the warning and repented); he shall surely live.” I think this is so neat. Once a person repents, the Lord never mention their sins again!

The body of Christ needs watchmen – men and women who allow the love of God to develop in them to the point they see things the way God sees them, hears things the way God hears them and loves the way God loves. This is what the world needs and God has given us the honor and the privilege and the grace to do it. The decision point is ours.

How much do we love the lost?

Do we love the lost enough that we want to be watchmen? Do we want to have the responsibility of teaching the homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders that there is another life to be lived – either with our Heavenly Father or without Him? Do we love them enough not to scream at them or condemn them but simply tell them what will happen if they continue to live the way they’re living?

The watchman’s job is to sound the warning.

There will be some who will not want to hear what we have to say, and that's okay. You see, the watchman’s job is to sound the warning. That’s our job. Three words: sound the warning. We are not responsible for the person’s response. Our responsibility is very simple: deliver the warning – deliver the teaching – as to why they need to make a change.

I know that some of those who died in that tragedy, if they had had a watchmen, there’s a possibility they would have repented. A watchmen cares enough to treat people right and with respect. You can’t be a watchman for someone you’re judging and condemning. Ladies and gentlemen, never forget about all the things you have laid at the Lord’s feet and received forgiveness. Never forget.

Love people. Respect people.

You are the watchmen and some of you have children that you can train up to be watchmen. Trained them to love people first. Train them to respect people first. Train them to always treat people with love.

When I get to heaven I want my father to say “Barry, you didn’t do everything and you made a few mistakes but I'm proud of you son.” That's what I want to hear ladies and gentlemen. Please be watchmen for the body of Christ and for those who are not yet part of the family. Be watchmen. Don’t let people die on your watch!