Sermon Illustrations

Do Some Screaming! (09.15.05--Heavenly Citizens!--1 Cor 15:31)

The hog-nose snake flipped over on its back and coiled itself up into a neat coil. It lay seemingly lifeless in front of us somehow waiting for us to either move on or dare to pick it up. Banking on the former, I am sure it was pleased to see us step around and continue our meadow walk.

The Hog-Nose Snake is a peculiar animal. It possesses all the weapons a snake would need to fend off a would-be attacker. It has size on its side. It looks menacing in that at least at a distance it could pass for a Rattle Snake. And it has some very sharp teeth. Although it is not poisonous, there are few animals that would choose to mess with it. Yet, when threatened, it prefers to play dead despite both the defensive and offensive tools that God has given it. It seems odd that, given the choice to fend off danger, it almost always chooses to tempt the danger rather than confront it.

How like that snake we as Christians often are. God gives us all the tools in His Word to not only defend ourselves but also to go on the offensive against sin. Yet, when we are threatened, we prefer to play dead and hope that the evil we are confronted by will simply pass us by. There’s an old story about a man who tried to save the city of Sodom from destruction by warning the citizens. But the people ignored him. One day someone asked, “Why bother everyone? You can’t change them.” “Maybe I can’t,” the man replied, “but I still shout and scream to prevent them from changing me!”

Lot was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7) who should have done some screaming. The record of his life reminds us of how our sense of moral indignation can be dulled by the world. Lot chose to dwell in cities where there was great wickedness (Genesis 13:12,13). When Sodom was invaded by hostile kings, he was captured. Even after Abraham rescued Lot, he was still drawn back to that wicked city (Genesis 19:1). And the last chapter of his story is an account of heartache and shame (Genesis 19). What a contrast -- this nephew and his uncle! Abraham trusted God, prayed for the righteous, and lived a moral life. But Lot was “oppressed with the filthy conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7). Although the sin of his day bothered him, he apparently said little about it. (Our Daily Bread)

The Bible tells us that when we are made new in Christ we must “die every day” to this world. I guess it is in how we wish to define that death that makes all the difference in how we confront the dangerous world around us. We can “play” dead and hope the dangers go away. Or, we can “die” to the dangers, put them off and bite into them with the teeth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given us all the “equipment.” It is up to us as to how we choose to use it.

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