Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Warnings have been issued! Now what?

Warnings are all around us all the time. Some warnings, such as those issued ahead of Hurricane Matthew, require us to take immediate action. The consequences of inaction can be dire; yet some directly in the path of the hurricane did not evacuate. Why?

When I was about 6 years old, a tornado warning was issued in my small NE Ohio town. It was not the first time we had such a warning, but this time my Dad took me down in the basement for safety. We waited out the storm and the tornado never came. I wondered what all the fuss was about until my Mom came home from work that night. She worked about 5 miles from our home and she  saw the tornado from the store she worked in. She saw the destruction of the tornado on her way home. Just because I didn't experience the destruction of the tornado first hand did not mean the danger wasn't real for many others. I learned to always heed warnings and stay vigilant in the face of possible danger.

Looking back, I wonder how my perspective would have changed if the tornado never came at all. I probably wouldn't take that second look when severe thunderstorm watches are issued. I wouldn't pay much attention to the so-called "weather experts". Maybe something similar happened for some of those people who ignored the evacuation orders. Consider how many times people in the SE United States have seen warnings issued where the storm didn't really pack the punch they were expecting. Shortly thereafter the weather experts will explain why the storm changed direction, or never materialized, but for many people it is too little too late. The weather expert's credibility is called into question and future warnings may fall on deaf ears.

The truth is predicting what lies ahead is very difficult to do, but it's even more difficult to share that message with people for fear of their reaction. As Christians we are on the front line of sharing a type of warning, the good news, with everyone. We often focus on the positive, hopeful and loving side of this message, but there is also the reality that accepting Jesus Christ as one's savior comes with responsibilities. It also is not a promise one's life will be free of adversity. Some do not want to hear this message, but we should not keep this message to ourselves just for fear of people's reactions. Consider this passage from Ezekiel 3:17-19:

Mortal, I have made you a sentinel 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 them no warning...those wicked persons shall die....but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness...they shall die...but you will have saved your life.

Ezekiel was tasked as the messenger to share the warnings from God with the people. Chances are Ezekiel had to share many unpopular warnings. Ezekiel likely upset people with the warnings he shared, but he was just the messenger. Ezekiel was not demanding they change their ways; rather, he was letting them know what danger lies ahead if they do not heed his warnings. Ezekiel knew there would be more harm than good for everyone, himself included, if he didn't share the message.

Warnings are all around us from our religious leaders, politicians, news media, friends, family, etc. Not all warnings will require we take action, but regardless we shouldn't ignore messengers who are trying to share a warning. Perhaps the warning does not apply to us this time, but it may apply to our neighbor. We must be like Ezekiel and share the warnings of impending danger with all who need to hear it in the hope we can save as many possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment