Loving Others

In our present day and age, there is a radical redefinition of love taking place.  No longer is it loving to approach a friend or relative for straying down the primrose path to destruction.  The current tide is let me alone, leave me to my own choices.  What standard do you base your judgment of me given your own humanness?  A response might sound like this…My love for you compels me to warn you about the path that you’re on and where it leads.  There is a better way, a truer way.  I want the best for you; however, I will not pester you, or bring this up again.  This will be the first and last time that I will ever speak about your unwise choices.  I respect you as a person to make your choices, but I neither support nor bless your lifestyle.

The above paragraph draws the ire of our society and culture.  Those words and the sentiments behind them are deemed hate speech.  Small business owners face lawsuits for expressing them.  It is my prayer that those private business owners wind up on the winning side of the law for the sake of liberty.  Of course, I allude to the wedding photographer, the baker, and the florist who each refused to support a same-sex wedding for their convictions toward Jesus and his word.  What happens to a culture and society when it becomes more loving to ignore rather than address the unwise choices of loved ones whether family, friends, coworkers, and more?  It is like being on a train heading for a ravine, but the bridge is out.  Someone you knew to be trustworthy had warned you about this fact.  You believed the information was true, and decided to exit the train before the ravine; however, you told others it was safe to remain on it when they asked you the reason for your urgent demeanor in getting off.

For my part, I could not remain silent being in the possession of such information.  This whole scenario brings to mind the following scripture text:

“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.  Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand.  But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul (Ezekiel 3:17-21, ESV).”

Now, the context of the above passage has to do with Ezekiel being raised up as a prophet to the nation of Israel in the land of Judah. Because of Judah’s spiritual idolatry and adultery, there is a near future judgment coming upon the people and the land.  The Babylonian empire looms to the north, and this nation has its eye on Jerusalem.  By his grace and mercy, the Lord God Almighty tasked Ezekiel with warning the people of Judah about the coming judgment via this empire.  It is one thing to receive a prophetic word from God like Ezekiel.  It is something else entirely to have heard from God, and then turn a blind eye toward the surrounding culture and society.  God warned Ezekiel against disconnecting himself from the people of Judah.

Here is what encourages me about Ezekiel, but at first it will not seem encouraging at all.  The priests, leaders, and people of Judah refused to respond to God’s warnings through Ezekiel.  Babylon invaded and ransacked the city of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. including taking a remnant of the people into exile for seventy years.  Ezekiel was one of those exiles.  Because the prophet obeyed the Lord, Ezekiel’s life was spared by virtue of the exile.  How does going into exile preserve lives?  In this case, going into exile preserves Ezekiel’s life and the remnant of Judah because God ordained it (Jeremiah 29:4-7, ESV).  May I also submit to my readers that our Father in heaven preserves Ezekiel’s life in part due to obeying his Father’s word about warning the wicked and righteous.

When it comes to loving others, believers in Jesus within the church, must embrace the call to obey God’s word like Ezekiel.  Whatever happened to Ezekiel would happen to the people.  He served as an example, a sign, of the things to come (Ezekiel 4:1-3, ESV).  Each believer in Jesus is like a modern day Ezekiel.  The true church or the invisible church is a witness to the culture and society for the Lord.  We are not to disconnect ourselves from them with a hard heart.  We must speak God’s word to the surrounding culture and society.  We love others by obeying God’s word to warn them about their disobedience and the corresponding consequences.  Our Father’s warning to the prophet Ezekiel remains alive and well for all believers in the true church, the invisible church, of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has promised to preserve our lives as we proclaim faithfully and truthfully his word.

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