Heed the Warnings
My wife and I were born and then spent the vast majority of our lives living in Maine. Maine, where devastating winter “Nor’easters” can deliver blinding “white-outs,” single story snowdrifts, and several feet of snow as well as sub-zero temperatures, all in one, paralyzing, days-long winter punch. Understandably, the local weather reports in advance of such winter weather events, serve a very vital and life-saving purpose, as many New Englanders hear and heed those warnings and head to the stores, making sure they are adequately prepared for the storm. Filling fuel tanks and stocking up on flashlights, batteries, blankets, shovels, bottled water and other food essentials help prepare for their survival in the case of any potentially days-long power outages and/or vehicle failures.
Later on, when we moved to the upper Midwest, we soon discovered the purpose of those personally never before encountered, funny-looking, multiple-mushroom capped telephone poles in town, when their piercing sirens sounded the warning of approaching, severe – and potentially life threatening – weather.
And then, some eight or so years ago when we moved to Oklahoma, we once again encountered a warning sign like we had never seen before. It was posted along the interstate highway we were on, and it read: “Do not drive into smoke” (making us once again wonder what we were really in for). Of course, over time we have come to learn about the devastating and life-threatening effect of summer grass fires in the south and are therefore very grateful for all such warnings.
Just a week ago this past Tuesday morning in “Tornado Alley,” a deadly twister touched down in Elk City, Oklahoma, killing one, injuring others, and leaving many homeless and without power. One reporter commented along the lines that the loss of life could have been a lot worse, had people not heeded the warnings and made the appropriate advance preparations as well as they did.
Warnings. They’re everywhere. And for the most part we are very grateful for them, because heeding their message often results in the prolonging of life/prevention of death. Warnings come in all shapes and sizes: on medicinal, prescription, and pharmaceutical products; in alcohol, tobacco, and food and drug commercials – as well as prominently displayed on much of their packaging; and posted where you work, live, recreate, and just about anywhere else you turn. In fact, it would amaze almost anyone to actually make a point of counting how many warnings they routinely come in contact with, one way or another, each and every day! And many of those warnings are federally and/or locally mandated by law!
So… why is it then, that so many warnings regarding the slightest prolonging of our earthly lives – which are at best but a brief vapor’s breath to begin with when compared with our eternal lives (Jms. 4:14; Psa. 90:4-12) – are so warmly welcomed, eagerly sought after, diligently demanded, and even rigorously required by the laws of the land in many cases, when the far more far-reaching and life-giving warnings from God regarding one’s eternal life, safety, security, and destination, as well as those who then faithfully preach, post, and promote them, often go unwanted, unheeded, and even hated and/or outlawed? Why is it warnings which save lives are seen as wonderful – except when we seek to save people’s eternal lives/souls from literally ‘going to hell,’ by sounding the essential warnings insisted upon by their loving Creator? Why is that? How exactly does that work?
Why is it when we simply sound God’s warning from Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God,” that we are viewed as insensitive, unloving, and uncaring people who just don’t want anyone to have any fun? Are those who post weather warnings regarding imminent and deadly earthly storms just insensitive, unloving, and uncaring people because they give you advance notice in order that you may make the appropriate changes and adjustments in order to survive? Of course not!
Why is it when we simply sound God’s warning from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God,” that we are considered as bigots and homophobes? Are those who sound the warnings to evacuate in the face of such life and death situations as hurricane Katrina was, condemned as bay-haters and houseaphobes? Don’t be ridiculous. They are at times considered and celebrated as life-savers!
Why is it when we simply sound God’s warnings regarding such essential elements as: repentance (Lk. 13:3-5) and baptism for the forgiveness or washing away of one’s sins – as well as their subsequent salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:27-41, 22:16; 1 Ptr. 3:21); or God’s eternally-settled in heaven word (Ps. 119:89) of warning instruction regarding the one, biblical, pre-denominational body or church of Christ (Eph. 1:22: 3:8-12, 4:4-6; Ro. 16:16); or the fact that man-made doctrines make any worship based upon them totally vain (Mk. 7:1-13) because the Father is seeking only those who will trust Him enough to worship in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23-24, 17:17; Acts 2:42); that we are perhaps considered as narrow-minded and legalistic by our denominational friends and family members? Do they disregard the warning labels on prescription drugs as being too narrow, prohibitive, and legalistic as well?
The fact is that warnings that save lives are wonderful. And warnings that save eternal lives and souls are seen as even infinitely more wonderful in the eyes of “Him with whom we have to do” (Hebs. 4:13); with Him who demands that His faithful children keep on warning (Ezek. 3:16-21, 33:7-11; Acts 20:26-32; 1 Thess. 5:12-22). And so, thus shall we do. “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear.”