Men Who Risk It All
We read in Philippians 2:30 that Epaphroditus “risked his life” for the sake of the Gospel. It’s clear that Paul wanted the church at Philippi to understand that here was a man of unquestionable worth, a man worthy of their greatest esteem. The Greek word suggests that he even daringly exposed himself to danger. He was willing to take enormous risks in order to help someone else – in this case, the apostle Paul.
Well might we honor such men today – men who are willing to take calculated risks that involve the expenditure of all they have in response to the worthiness of Jesus Christ. Well might we become such men today.
I know an entire class of loyal, courageous, and self-effacing ministers of the Gospel. Many of them will be at this weekend’s Uniting Church and Family Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. They are men who are willing to break with tradition and return to a biblical emphasis upon families. Family-integrated churches are no longer on trial. They have proven themselves. Our Lord Himself tells us that we must not keep the little children from coming to Him. It is a part of the strategy of the enemy to make us believe that age-segregation is a biblical concept. The first great need today is to test the spirits and to be wise to the wiles and devices of the Adversary. To do this we need to awaken to the reality that the breakdown of the family is encouraged, not ameliorated, when parents are allowed to abdicate their God-given responsibilities.
Of course, age-integrated churches can get stuck in a religious rut and fall into a mere form of godliness without power. But the true disciple is not out just to be different but to prove in his own experience the will of God. Blessed is the Christian who knows that while he may seem to be out of kilter with his culture, he is following in the footsteps of His Lord, who said “suffer the little children to come unto Me.”
Why is it that, despite all our religious activity and all our programs, we still lose the vast majority of our teenagers to the world when they graduate from high school? Something is wrong when the shrine makers for Diana are so little bothered by our “Christianity” that they stage no protest. If Junior shows signs of being different he is hustled off to youth group to learn how to “get along” – as if the get-alongers were getting anywhere! It is not our main business to denounced organized religion. But we certainly should be producing the kind of young people who have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose those works by the contrast of their godly living. Here’s a verse that should describe every young person in our churches: “Don’t let anybody look down on you because you are young, but instead be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love, faithfulness, and purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). Note that everything the apostle John had to say about his own “young men” was positive: “You are strong…the word of God abides in you…, and you have overcome the Evil One” (1 John 2:12-14).
We need to return to the absolute sufficiency of the Scriptures. God takes no orders from us. Are we so in love with our programs and activities that we are unwilling to bow to His? More important still, does the conduct of our youth and our children advertise the Gospel? How refreshing in these times when so many have such low expectations of their youth to find a church where young men and women are still being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, where every head of the household is a youth pastor, and where the child who is without an earthly father finds direction and help from other godly families in the Body of Christ.
It can be done and it is being done here and there. May we be willing to make it a living reality in our homes and in our churches. May we be willing to risk everything for the sake of the Gospel!
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April 12, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.