August 8, 2014

Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”

The idea of someone claiming to speak for God seems like pure hubris to some people, but it is a very Biblical concept. This is one of the clearest statements in the Old Testament, and Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:20 are equally clear. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” God does speak directly to people, and that is one of many reasons to pursue a deepening relationship with Him, but for those who don’t have the ears of their heart opened, a spokesman for God is not just helpful, but essential. However, this isn’t an assignment to take lightly. This passage in Ezekiel, along with its reiteration in Ezekiel 33, is both clear and severe as to the consequences of failing to pass on what we hear from God. These days, “political correctness” is a huge paper tiger in the way of speaking out what God is saying. The moment someone is perfectly clear about sin and its consequences, that person is accused of every form of hatred and discrimination imaginable. It is abundantly clear that those who speak most of “tolerance” are the least tolerant people around when it comes to anything that might indicate that they are sinners. However, that’s just a paper tiger, because the worst they can do to someone is kill them, but obedience to God brings eternal life and abundant rewards in that life. Christians aren’t to run around pointing fingers, but when God gives opportunity they are certainly to call people to repentance, as Christ’s ambassadors.

Since I am a pastor, and specifically one in Japan, where a very small percentage of people are Christians by any label, this is clearly applicable to me. However, it certainly calls for wisdom. If I were to go around condemning everything that is clearly unbiblical, even, I would quickly lose whatever audience I might have. I am to speak as God gives opportunity, but I must always do so in love, and never speaking down to anyone. My heart needs to be broken at the huge numbers of people around me who are headed for hell. However, that is true for genuine Christians anywhere, including America. If America had had more faithful watchmen, she might not be where she is right now, in very grave danger. As a watchman I’ve got to be willing to be disliked. However, that risk is smaller than the devil wants me to believe. I once made an appointment with my secular boss and used it to give a very clear Gospel presentation. He declined the invitation to believe, but expressed respect for me for having issued it. I am to be an example to others who are afraid to “rock the boat,” speaking boldly in love whenever God gives opportunity, so that as many as will may be saved.

Father, You know this is an issue that has bothered me through the years. I feel my heart is not broken enough, yet if I mourned every individual I would be paralyzed with grief. Help me love people with Your love, which is strong enough that Jesus died, while at the same time resting in peace and joy because of Your grace toward me. May I be an effective ambassador for You to all whom I encounter, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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