Summary: Take a risk! By faith, fear God more than people, forsake the world, follow the Lord, and find salvation for your own soul. By faith, do what others cannot do and live a life pleasing to the Lord.
In one little Midwestern town, Miss Jones had the distinction of being the oldest resident in town. So when she died, the editor of the local paper wanted to print a little article remembering this dear old lady. Except he couldn’t think of anything to say when he sat down to write the article. Miss Jones had never done anything terribly wrong. She had never spent a night in jail or had ever been drunk. On the other hand, she had never done anything significant.
With this still on his mind, the editor went down to the local café, and there, ran into the local funeral director. He too was having the same trouble. He wanted to put something on Miss Jones’ tombstone besides “Miss Nancy Jones, born such-and-such a date and died such-and-such a date,” but he couldn’t think of anything to write either.
The editor decided to go back to his office and assign the job of writing up a small article for both the paper and the tombstone to the first reporter he saw. When he got to the office, he ran into the sports editor, who got the assignment. So somewhere in some little community in the Midwest there is a tombstone which reads:
Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones,
For her life held no terrors.
She lived an old maid. She died an old maid.
No hits, no runs, no errors. (C. C. Mitchell, Let’s Live!)
I’m afraid to say, “That’s the way many Christians live their lives.” They’ve never done anything terribly wrong, but they never accomplish anything significant for the Lord.
Peter Marshal, former Chaplain of the United States Senate, put it this way some time ago: He said, “Christians [today] are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs.”
A lot of believers are afraid to take risks. They are afraid to get into some deep water. And yet they have a faith which equips them for deep water. They have a faith which encourages them to take great risks and attempt great things for God.
Do you want to see what your faith in Christ can do? Then I invite you to turn with me to Hebrews 11, Hebrews 11, where we read about some believers who took great risks and accomplished great things for God.
Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (ESV)
Pharaoh had decreed that every new-born Hebrew boy be thrown into the river. Yet, when Moses was born, his parents refused to do it. They disobeyed the king’s edict, hiding baby Moses for three months. That’s because they feared God more than any person. They respected the Lord, and it gave them the courage to do what was right even if it meant certain death.
That’s what faith is all about, my friends, and by faith you can do the same thing. By faith, you can be bold to obey God even if others don’t like it.
Peter Cartwright was a 19th Century circuit-riding, Methodist preacher, who was not afraid to tell it like it is. On one particular Sunday, before the service, he was told, “President Andrew Jackson in here; be careful what you say.”
So when Cartwright stood to preach he said, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn’t repent.”
The congregation was shocked and wondered how the president would respond. After the service, President Jackson shook hands with Peter Cartwright and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.” (Leadership, Winter 1991, p.49) You see…
Peter Cartwright feared God more than he feared any man. In fact, it was his fear of God that gave him the courage to stand up to any man, even those in positions of great power. And that’s what you faith in Christ does for you. It gives you the courage to obey God even when others might be offended. So dear believing friend, put your faith to work and…
FEAR GOD MORE THAN YOU FEAR ANYBODY ELSE.
By faith, be bold to obey God despite what your friends might say. By faith, have the courage to do what’s right even if the whole world is doing what’s wrong. Take a risk, and take a stand for Christ in the way you live your life day in and day out.
There are a lot of metaphors for the church these days. Some see it as a hospital to heal the sick and wounded. Some see it as a family where everyone is accepted, and some see it as a school where we are taught the word of God. These metaphors all have something to offer, but they don’t really capture the essence of what Christ designed the church to be.