March 24, 2023

‘Beware All Who Enter Here!’

God’s blessings come through obedience and servanthood. There is no other way.

“A-a-r-r-g-g-h-h-h, me hearties! Abandon hope all ye who enter here!” Maybe it was because we were visiting Orlando that I was having flashbacks of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I am not doing Disney this year (or any other year), but I do have a fond memory of the first time we did “Pirates” at Walt Disney World. Then again, it might have been the unrelenting Disney commercials on TV. However it happened, that “Abandon all hope” thought kept cycling through my brain. I think I’ll get the welcome mat for that:

Warnings are good. I wanted to get the sign that said: “Because of the higher cost of ammunition trespassers will not have the benefit of a warning shot. Thank you for your understanding!” My bride nixed that one.

Jesus was someone who gave warnings. On one occasion, a man approached Him as He was about to depart in a boat. “And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head’” (Matthew 8:19-20, ESV). Jesus was essentially telling this man to count the cost.

We are all familiar with the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking what he must do to obtain eternal life. Jesus listed some of the commandments, and the young man stated that he had done those things from his youth. “And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’ And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:20-22). It says that Jesus “loved him,” but He didn’t negotiate or follow after him. He needed to count the cost.

I’m not sure the Church is doing a very good job of telling people coming through our doors, “Beware all ye who enter here!” How many are told that we are to “take up our cross daily”? Jesus said this to His disciples: “And he said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear’” (Mark 4:24). As Christians, we need to understand that biblical instruction is not intended to give us head knowledge. God doesn’t impart “suggestions” — He gives “commandments,” not because He is a cosmic killjoy, but because He created us for purpose and relationship.

Listen to these statements from Jesus. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25). He went on to say that those who did not do those things were building on sand. In another place He said, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). He said this as He finished washing the disciples’ feet, thus giving them a model of humble Christian service.

God’s blessings come through obedience and servanthood. There is no other way. Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). It may be good to put the welcome mat at the church’s front door, but maybe we need to put the pirate mat at the entrance of the sanctuary: “Beware all who enter here!” “A-a-r-r-g-g-h-h-h!”

What say ye, Man of Valor?

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