Courage

18_golden-statueBased on Daniel 3:8-30

The silence was immense. The three men had never known how something as simple as silence could be so heavy. They each stood there, with nothing but the weight of their own clothing, but the silence pulled down on their shoulders and their heads as if great black sandbags were tied to their hands. The silence lasted for less than a minute, but to those three it seemed more like an agonizing and endless wait.

And they waited.

The only sound in the room was the roaring of the fire. They had all heard fire before, its crackling warmth on a cold night or the welcoming smell of an oven full of baked bread, but this fire was different. This fire was angry. It bellowed at them like a great lion, hungry for its prey. It was over 50 paces away to their right, but even so they could feel its heat bearing down on them, aching to devour their skin, their hair, and their clothing, until nothing was left but ash. In the end the men would be indistinguishable from one another. Their families would not be able to claim them, nor bury them properly. They would simply fade into nothingness. Continue reading

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Observations on Irony and What We Do About It

Um...yeah...

Um…yeah…

We live in an ironic world. It’s like living in a Salvador Dali painting. Up is seen as down. Right is wrong. Good is viewed as evil. Philosophies resulting in death are trusted to provide life and freedom.

What irony surrounds the unbeliever! They are enslaved to sin, yet told they are free. Believing they are enlightened, their minds are darkened. “I am free to love who I want and do what I please”, but held captive by the devil to do his will. Dead in their sins, they believe the have found life. Happily seeking their “destiny” while destined to judgment and separation from God. Seeking and finding momentary wealth, they fail to obtain eternal riches. Pursuing pleasure but devoid of real joy. Reveling in the “evidence” and “science”, while that which is known about God is plain to them.

Irony further abounds for the Christian. They are called to be light, but viewed as ignorant. Called to be salt, but viewed as tasteless. Ambassadors of the king, yet reviled as agitators. Bearers of eternal truth, but seen as old fashioned. Those who share true freedom, yet judged as restrictive. Seen as hateful and judgmental despite carrying the greatest message of love ever known to man.

How ironic is this world around us? What actually is valuable is discarded, and that which is called worthless is really priceless. Babies and their body parts are viewed as tools for making a profit. Telling the truth is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with your campaign strategy. The human body, made in the image and glory of God, is used to make pornographic images which destroy souls and marriages. Courage, once associated with self sacrifice and service, is now confirmed upon those who boldly reject the sexuality of God.

It is into a world, dark, dying, and confused, that the believer in Christ is called to go proclaim the gospel message; a message most people will hate or ridicule. Aren’t you encouraged? Yeah! Who is ready to go share their faith? Oh boy, pick me!

So what do we do about it? So what do we think about all of this?

  • Recognize the reality of this ironic planet. Accept that the world and its beliefs are evil, stupid, and destructive, and do not be surprised when it is aligned against everything God and the Bible stands for.
  • View non-believers, not as enemies, but as lost, deceived, and pitiful creatures. John Newton famously wrote in the hymn Amazing Grace, “I was blind, but now I see.” Remember non-believers are still stuck in the “blind” stage. In the Lord of the Rings Frodo ultimately came to view Gollum with pity because he saw how the ring of power had destroyed his body, mind and soul. A non-believer may view us with disdain, but we must view them with compassion and understanding.
  • Remember the Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly entered an ironic world to save ironic people. He knew the world would reject, despise, and ultimately kill him, but he came anyway. He came, knowing most of the people in his day and in the ages thereafter, would not receive his message. Despite the world’s refusal to turn from that which destroys and condemns, he still offered life and forgiveness.
  • Go anyway. Like Jesus we are called to go into an ironic world and preach a message which most ironic people will reject as stupid, backward, and restrictive. Go anyway. The world is killing our brothers and sisters in Christ. Go anyway. The world’s philosophies only produce death, destruction, and pain, so go and preach and live out that which brings life, hope, and forgiveness.

You know what’s really cool? One day irony will end, (or it will just get more ironic, depending how you look at it). The lamb who was slain will be the Lion on the throne. The “idiot” who gave up his wealth and prospects to be a poor missionary in (fill in the blank) will hear “Well done”. The faithful single mother discarded by her deadbeat husband will be exalted before the angels. The prayers said in tears will turn to dances of praise.

Get it? It's an Upside-Down Cake...No? Oh well.

Get it? It’s an Upside-Down Cake…No? Oh well.

So be faithful. Live in this ironic world with its ironic people. Keep going. Live out your faith. One day this upside down world will turn right side up.