Once upon a time, there was a blind man walking along the trail of a steep canyon. He was used to living on his own and was confident he could hike to the other side. However, as he began to tire, he became careless and started to zigzag along the trail.
Soon he began to walk much closer to the drop-off of a thirty foot cliff. Even though the brittle ledge began to crumble beneath him, he didn’t realize how dangerously close he was to the edge.
“I see you’re having trouble walking this trail”, a passing hiker said. He stopped and pulled some headphones out of his backpack. “Here’s some soothing choir music to comfort you. Peace along the way, my friend”.
So he continued, kicking up loose gravel and billows of dust with each step. His foot nearly slipped off a time or two, but he kept on, enthralled by the music.
A little while later, he came upon another hiker.
“You have so much potential,” he said. “Don’t ever criticize yourself.” He put a hand on his shoulder and smiled broadly. “Tell yourself that you are smart, that you are able, that you are loved. That’ll give you a shot in the arm, right buddy?” He stuck his hand out for a firm handshake and was on his way.
Shortly thereafter, he came across another hiker. “What you need to do”, this one insisted, “is realize that God wants you to succeed and prosper!” The blind man gave him a confused look, but he continued on, “You must boldly declare words of victory to reach your dreams of success and achievement!” With that, he gave him a pat on the back so hard that the blind man almost fell over. “Be a winner, not a whiner!” he added, yelling over his shoulder as he passed the blind man.
The blind man continued on, perilously close to the edge. Just before he was to take a step over the cliff that would be his last, a man came up from behind him and tackled him, rolling him towards the opposite wall of rock.
“Dude, are you okay?” he asked, dusting off his jeans. “You could have fallen over the cliff!”
“Man, what are you talking about?” the blind man replied, picking up his stick. “I’m fine, no thanks to you!”
“No, really, man, look…”
Frustrated, the hiker stops in mid-sentence when he realized the man couldn’t see.
“Umm….listen,” he states, as he picked up rocks and threw them over the cliff. “Hear that?”
“Hear how long it took for those rocks to hit the ground?”
Seeing the look of disbelief on the blind man’s face, he continues.
“HELLO!” he yells, putting a hand up to his ear.
….. “HELLO …Hello …hello” the canyon echoed back.
“See what I mean?” he asked.
The blind man began to shake. He got down on his hands and knees, and crawled ever so slowly towards the edge. He ran his hand along the rim, and backed off again.
Horrified, he quickly scooted back to the canyon wall.
“My God, you’re right!”
“Yes, buddy,” He replies, “I’m just glad it wasn’t too late.”*
The blind man in this story desperately needed one thing—a strong warning–not soothing music or a pep talk.
Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? And yet, I believe that many of our pulpits today shy away from an equally dire warning, which is the warning of the seriousness and consequences of sin.
In an effort to stay popular and not scare anyone away, the teaching and proclamation of the whole gospel is avoided and traded in for a more “relevant” and “less offensive” message.
I wonder how often we hear the word Repent.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)
True repentance isn’t merely a passing remorse out of a shallow fear of punishment; it is a heartfelt conviction, an attitude of humility and gratitude for God’s forgiveness. It is turning away, in both the mind and heart, from the self to God. It comes out of an honest look at the reality of sin and the need for God’s grace.
Just like the last hiker in the story who warned the blind man of the danger of the ledge, we as believers are told to show the same diligence and urgency about sin. We are to “save others with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (Jude 23)
Lest anyone think that Christianity is nothing but “hell, fire, and brimstone”, it isn’t a denial of God’s judgment either…and when I say judgment, I mean that we will all stand before God one day. However, as surely as I say this, I can also say that those who know Christ as Lord and Savior will be overwhelmed by His great love, a love that allowed His Son to the cross to pay for our sin.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
My hope is that you do attend a church that is dedicated to teaching the pure and simple gospel message, and that you have come to know Christ as a result of repentance of sin. If you have not, I urgently plead to you to make that decision today. Your eternal destiny depends on trusting Christ as the only one who can and has taken that awful penalty away.
Consider the church you attend. Do you hear the full gospel story, both the bad news as well as the good news? Is the fact that we are all sinners in dire need of God’s mercy clearly communicated? Does your church adhere to preach the reality of hell to those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior?
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24
* Original story, inspired by a metaphor by Kirk Cameron, “The Way of the Master”