I want to share a short story about just how stupid men can be—and yours truly is today’s character witness.
About 17 years ago I had a bit of a fungus problem in my toe nails and I went to the Doctor. He gave me a prescription that he said would kill the fungus in 1-2 months, so I started taking one pill a day as he instructed.
About the third day into the medication I was having intense abdominal pain and cramping to the point it was doubling me over. Nancy came home from work and saw me in pain. The first thing she asked me was “Did you read the instructions on the medication you’re taking to make sure you are following the instructions and warnings?’
Well, I’m a guy, and we don’t usually bother ourselves with little things like reading instructions before we do something. As Nancy read the warnings and possible side effects of the medication I was on, the instructions said “Do not take iron supplements with this medication as it can cause serious stomach problems, even ulcers.”
Well guess who was taking iron supplements and continued to do so even with the new medication? Amazing, once I stopped taking the iron supplements, the pain went away.
One third of the Bible is prophecy—God’s way of preparing and warning us of what would one day happen. In perhaps Jesus’ most explicit prophecy, The Olivet Discourse, He gives us several warnings as he prepares us for His return.
- Wars and Rumors of War. The 20th Century saw more people killed in war than in the entire history of the world combined before it. And as you watch the growth of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons being produced; the growing lust for power and wealth among nations, and brutal regimes rising before our eyes—we may soon see a war that makes the wars of the 20th century look like a walk in the park. The Bible prophecies that one third of the world’s people could die in the next world war.
- Famines and earthquakes. Every scientific study produced points to the undeniable fact that earthquakes have increased in numbers and strength at an alarming rate over the past 40 years. We are seeing unprecedented droughts in areas of the world, including the United States, that could put the world’s food supply at risk very quickly.
- Many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. We live in an era where the gospel is just too harsh and offends too many people. After all, who are we to tell someone they are a sinner? And heaven forbid we as Americans should ever repent of our sinful ways!
The Book of Revelation tells us of the horseman who ushers in pestilence and famine. Well, have you been keeping up on the news lately? It’s not just Ebola, but many diseases we thought we had wiped out years ago are back, stronger than ever. We keep messing around with antibiotics every time we get an ear infection or have the sniffles and now we have super strains of bacteria that these antibiotics cannot touch.
So just like that guy I talked about earlier—you know the one who took the medication without reading the warnings on the label—we just pop our “happy Jesus pill” and never read the warnings associated with being a true believer. And what does the “warning label” say about becoming a true Christian?
- We must pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
- We must die to our flesh and sinful ways.
- We might suffer mocking and persecution, even from friends and families.
- We might be called to give up all our earthly comforts for the glory of God and the serving of others.
- We must love our Christian brothers and sisters—and even love those who hate and persecute us.
- We must share the gospel of salvation with the lost and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
We live in a world that wants instant happiness and refuses to accept difficulties in this life. Depressed? Just come see the doctor and he’ll give you a pill. That pill doesn’t help you feel good enough yet? Just take this one and it will so destroy your thought process that you will walk around like a zombie—but hey you won’t feel depressed anymore!
And let’s be honest—we as Christian are no better sometimes. Oh we want that life of peace and joy in Jesus Christ—but we refuse to acknowledge or accept the side effects that come with it—dying to our flesh and loving God more than anything. We want Jesus but not at the cost of our wealth or desires of the flesh. I’ll come to church on Sunday, but Pastor better make sure I get home in time for the Packer game.
I’ll listen to a sermon, but it darn well better make me feel good about myself and my sinful life. And I’ll be generous with my money—as long as it doesn’t bring inconvenience into my life. I want that Jesus that promises health and wealth—not the one who says give up everything to follow Him! We are no better than the rich young ruler—proud and boastful about our own self-righteousness—but when the rubber meets the road we love our comfort and wealth more than we love God.
I made a mistake once—taking a strong medication without reading the warning label—and it almost landed me in the hospital with a serious illness. I am not about to do that again with the Word of God—where ignoring the warning label might cost me my eternal soul.
The “prescription” for eternal life with God is hearing “Well done good and faithful servant” when we stand before Jesus Christ in judgment. And what do you think the “warning label” on that prescription might say? What are the possible side effects? Are we prepared to accept them?