Do not read David Platt’s Radical: Taking Back the American Dream and Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell at the same time!
But seriously… if you’re looking for double doses of conviction, do it. And continue to pray while doing so in order for the Holy Spirit to do its work (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Radical has had our small group take the next step to reaching out locally, building relationships more intentionally, supporting international causes, and even particular couples seeking short-term missions trips (PtL!). It has challenged my wife and I to assist with a meal ministry in town. The book, through much prayer and reading of scripture, has also had me really think about the person that I am and the things that I do to show a true change by God in my heart in America and in Asia, at home and in public (aka everywhere). Erasing Hell has been difficult to read because of the fact that Chan approaches the various ways hell could be viewed, but more importantly he hits on the core truth still remaining. People’s eternities are at stake, and there is no second chance after death. (Sidenote: Talking with God can lead to peace, but it can also bring pain, and this pain can be for the world’s eternity.) I was struck while praying in the last day or so by something Chan said in the book.
“Hell is for real. Am I?”
This all connects with a thought that I recall having in high school, college, and a couple years after. I understand the situations where loving others, at times, means being quiet and just being with that person (Job). What I don’t comprehend is the “positive example” that we as Christians can be in only our actions while the rest of the world simply observes. Our actions are vital and carry a lot of weight, but sometimes words may be necessary in order to explain the change that has happened inside, no matter how the other may respond (1 Peter 3:13-17). I remember thinking in the past that “I want to be the example that others see and are prompted to wonder, ‘What’s different about him?’” What I have been confronted about lately though, and I can’t just let is slide, is the fact that every second counts in our walks with God.
I have thought a lot about the continuous and uncountable times (composed of seconds) that I have walked by my local neighbors, seen them feeling depressed or angry, and went on to imagine myself winning an Emmy for “Best Example for the World.” But really, this whole year, have those neighbors considered even just one time what is different about me? I have no clue because I rarely talk with them, and that question isn’t atop my list of icebreakers when awkwardly walking into them. This is my fault. Romans 10:14-17 is where I’m heading, folks, and it’s time for me to speak up verbally (not just on a blog or tweet!). If I want God to speak through me into others and make disciples “to the ends of the earth,” I need to be that person living and speaking now where I am at or else I will stand before Jesus at the second coming with shame. I need to be ready every second of every day to be on guard against the enemy (1 Peter 5:8-11) and speak of the hope that I have in Him anywhere with anyone.
Shame now and later, or unashamed now and later (1 John 2:28). What do you want Jesus to say to you when the time comes?