Monday, January 24, 2011

Do You Like Metaphors?

Metaphors are a wonderful means of communicating biblical truths. You can easily spot them because they usually contain the word "like," but not like it is used in the popular culture--"like totally" (I once counted a teenage girl’s use of "like" an amazing 82 times, in ten minutes).

Jesus once used three different metaphors to convey one biblical truth. He said that the Kingdom of God is like a woman who lost a coin. It was like a shepherd searching for a lost sheep, and it was like a prodigal son returning to his father.

I am about to use a few metaphors to communicate a biblical truth. See if you can spot the "like." Hopefully, it will help to hit home something that is very important.

There are four types of people in this world: unbelievers, hypocrites, believers, and disciples. These four categories are like four types of people after the tragic sinking of the Titanic. Some are drowning. Some are managing to stay afloat, but will drown in time. Some are in a lifeboat and they are talking among themselves and polishing brass, and some are reaching out to desperately reach drowning people.

In this great tragedy we call "humanity," we are surrounded by people who are dying. They are all around us. We call them "unbelievers." There are also hypocrites around us. These are people who name the name of Christ, but live in hypocrisy. In time, they will perish. Then there are the many believers. These people are not hypocritical. They read their Bibles, pray, go to church and do things that a Christian should, but they are not involved in what Spurgeon called the “irksome” task of evangelism. The fourth category are the relatively few disciples. These are those who are reaching out to the lost. To them, every unsaved human being is like someone who is drowning, and they desperately make every effort they can to reach them.

Let's look closely at the third category, and liken them again to people in a lifeboat. The ship’s captain courageously dived into the deathly cold water to save drowning people. From the freezing water he cries out to those in the safety of the boat, “Reach out and save those who are dying!” These people see and hear him, but they deliberately ignore what he says, and happily chatter among themselves as they polish the lifeboat's brass.

Here now is an important question for you. How would you describe the moral character of those people? Do you think that they love and respect the captain? Do they love and care about dying people? How would you categorize them--as kind, loving, obedient, disobedient, cold-hearted, cruel, or perhaps even evil?

In John 8:31-32, Jesus said "to those who believed on Him: If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed..." (italics added). Are you are a disciple of Christ? Are you disciplined to do what He tells you to do? Or do you just believe, but you don’t obey His Great Commission? Do you verbally share your faith? Do you reach out to the lost? Do you care about the unsaved? If you don't, how then would you categorize yourself--as kind, loving, obedient, disobedient, cold-hearted, cruel, or even evil?

The biggest moment for you in this life will be the moment you pass into eternity. Isn't that true? It is breath-takingly big. At that instant, you, of all things in the life, must be assured of your salvation.

After nearly 40 years of seeing this category of believers--who ignore the Captain of our salvation's command to reach the lost, I'm nervous that they may not be saved…or they may be saved, but only just be saved by the skin of their teeth.

Here's another metaphor to help drive home what I am trying to say. The contemporary world is like four people waiting to jump out of a plane. One isn't wearing a parachute. One is wearing one, but he has cut the main straps and it is hanging by a thread. The third man's parachute is very loose, and the fourth is very tight.

If you aren't sharing your faith, your parachute seems to be very loose, based on my understanding of Scripture. Maybe you are like the rich man who let Lazarus starve at his gate, like the servant who knew his lord's will, but didn’t do it, like the servant who buried his talent, and was called "wicked" by Jesus. You call Him "Lord," but fail to do what He tells you--to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. What do you think? Am I wrong? I hope so. This issue is too important for me to worry that I may offend you. It's not my job to examine you to see if you are in the faith. It's yours. Make sure you do that.

If you suspect that you are in this category, don't shake off conviction (a sense of guilt) by saying that evangelism isn’t your gifting. Imagine those in the lifeboat using that excuse for not reaching out to dying people. And don't make things more difficult for yourself by putting the cart before the horse. By that I mean that those who are truly saved, seek the lost because the love of God is in them. They delight to do God's will. They deny themselves daily. So this is what I would strongly suggest that you do. Get before the Lord right now and ask Him to forgive you for being hard-hearted about the lost, and plead with Him to give you a love that will swallow your fears. You will then have to do your bit. Study how to reach the lost. Deny yourself legitimate pleasures, and instead apply yourself to this irksome task of evangelism. Then, once you have all those things connected, let the horse of the love of God and love for the lost pull the cart, and take you where you are supposed to go.