Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do Not Go Quietly

That is the name of the message I'm preaching this Sunday, from Titus 2:11-15:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

The gospel of God's grace in Jesus is an amazing trainer. It humbles us as it emboldens us. It drives us to our knees in awe while it empowers us to stand and walk. It takes away the burden of meritocratic discipleship while it moves us to a life of good works.

It calls us to deny ourselves as it gives us the authority of being ambassadors for the kingdom.

"Let no one disregard you," Paul says to Titus. This is similar to his admonition to Timothy to not let anyone look down on his youthfulness. But it is less specific and more emphatic: don't be disregarded.

Are you living as if the kingdom of God is a force to be reckoned with?

Jesus did not get betrayed and arrested and tortured and crucified because he taught peace, love, and good vibes. Anybody can ignore a hippie. But a guy who claims to be the Son of God? A guy who heals people and pronounces God's forgiveness and walks into the temple and acts like he owns the place? And then announces its destruction? That's somebody you have to deal with. You can't disregard him.

Pervaiz Masih clearly got this.
On October 20, two suicide bombers launched near simultaneous attacks on both the men's and women's side of the campus.

Afsheen Zafar, 20, is in mourning. Three of her classmates, girls she describes as "shining stars," were killed on that terrible day.

Still, she says the carnage could have been much worse if not for the actions of a lowly janitor, who was also killed.

"If he didn't stop the suicide attacker, there could have been great, great destruction," Zafar says.

"He's now a legend to us," says another 20-year-old student named Sumaya Ahsan. "Because he saved our lives, our friends' lives."

The janitor's name was Pervaiz Masih. According to eyewitness accounts, the attacker approached disguised in women's clothing. He shot the guard on duty, and then approached the cafeteria, which was packed with hundreds of female students.

Masih intercepted the bomber in the doorway, however, and the bomber self-detonated right outside the crowded hall, spraying many of his explosive vest's arsenal of ball bearings out into the parking lot instead of into the cafeteria.

"The sweeper who was cleaning up here saw someone outside and went towards him," said Nasreen Siddique, a cafeteria worker who was wounded in the head, leg and arm by the blast. "[Masih] told him that he could not come inside because there were girls inside. And then they started arguing. And then we heard a loud blast and all the glass broke."

"Between 300 to 400 girls were sitting in there," said Professor Fateh Muhammad Malik, the rector of the university. "[Pervez Masih] rose above the barriers of caste, creed and sectarian terrorism. Despite being a Christian, he sacrificed his life to save the Muslim girls."

Masih was a member of Pakistan's Christian minority, traditionally one of the poorest communities in the country.

No, not "despite" being a Christian did he save Muslim girls. Because he's a Christian he saved Muslim girls.

Church in the West, we are living lives of disregard and consequently having little impact. Despite our big buildings and our big budgets and our big publishing empires and our big voting blocks and our big events and our big numbers, we are living in such a way to be disregarded.

We cannot afford to go quietly. Exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

1 comment:

co_heir said...

God help us to live such sacrificial lives.