Sermon Illustrations

Cuban Missle Crisis Compared to Spiritual Brinkmanship

It is October 14th, and the sun is reflecting mirages of water on an Air Force base runway in southern Florida. The silence of that scene is interrupted as a long-winged plane touches down on the runway and taxies to the hanger. A thousand planes a day go through this same routine, but this one plane’s payload is different from all the others. Its payload is just a few rolls of film, but the information on that film will shape the events of the world. It will shift the balance of power in the world. The film is transported to a top-secret laboratory and developed. It is sent to the Pentagon and then to the Oval Office in the White House. The year is 1962, and a young president, John F. Kennedy, just 44 years old, sits at the desk in the oval office of America. The decision he makes moves the armies of the most powerful nation in the world to counter a crisis of immense proportions. The photos taken were from a U2 reconnaissance aircraft. One picture in particular revealed that the Soviets had placed medium-range missile silos in Cuba. These missiles were capable of reaching strategic targets throughout the United States. The risk of world conflict hadn’t reached this level since WW2, and it involved the two greatest superpowers in the world, Russia and America. The president moved decisively, ordering Premier Khrushchev to halt all further deliveries of weapons and to immediately dismantle the missile sites. A broadcast to the American people let us know the gravity of the situation. The president said, “This secret, swift, extraordinary buildup of communist weapons is a deliberate and unjustifiable challenge to our national security, and it will not be accepted.” America braced for what was to come. President Kennedy ordered an immediate naval and air blockade of Cuba. Premier Khrushchev decided he would test this young president’s fabric and challenge this nation’s resolve. The Soviet ships sailed on toward Cuba. The world held its breath in nervous anticipation as hours crept by and ships grew closer and closer to one another. As kids we played a little game called ’chicken’ but this was no harmless game. There is a word for this standoff in wartime vocabulary. It is called “brinkmanship.” Brinkmanship is the willingness to expose oneself to risk, to press the limits of safety for a cause. It is walking the tightrope of disaster. The Soviets were going to press the boundary, walk the line, and see just how much they could get away with. The Soviet ships were 100 yards away from our American ships. Our Navy was on full battle alert with orders to stop the Russians at all costs. Some of you recall those moments as people were glued to the radios and TV’s to see who would flinch, who would fire, or what the world would look like in this latest age of nuclear war. With just feet to spare, at the brink of disaster and destruction, the Soviets turned.

There are a lot of people who play this game of spiritual brinkmanship with God. They push the envelope of their lives into realms of darkness, compromise, filth, carnality, and wickedness all the while calling themselves a Christian. Some of the greatest pornography lovers are in the church. Some of the worst thieves are in the church. Some of the worst liars are in the church. Some of the worst adulterers are in the church. But that doesn’t mean they’re in the family of God. Let those who name the name of Christ forsake their iniquity. Brinkmanship - pushing God to the limits of mercy and grace right on up to the last few hours in the Intensive Care ward at the hospital and crying crocodile tears for a life wasted in the devil’s lair and these folks think God will treat them royally in the judgment. Better to think again. Brinkmanship - sailing deep into the waters of adultery and fornication and expecting God to rescue a condemned vessel when the storms of disease and death hit.

From a sermon by Tim Adams, The Vision of a Holy Heart, 12/1/2009

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