by Roger Bruce

Rejection: dismissal of a proposal or idea. Everyone loves acceptance, no one wants to experience rejection ever again. Having someone disagree with you is awkward at the minimum. Most of us don’t want to have to defend our positions or feel inadequate to do so. There are others who love to debate any point. You know who you are, don’t argue with me!

In Ezekiel 33.1-20, we read of an illustration where in ancient cities, watchmen were appointed to stand guard on the city walls and give an alarm if invaders were approaching. The Lord tells Ezekiel he is the spiritual watchman of Israel and to give them the message to turn away from their sins and toward God. Sure, no problem. What could possibly go wrong?

Hmm, some folks might not know that my little old pea-pickin’ heart is in the right place. Hey, they might not cotton to being called heathens, pagans, or sinners on a Hell-bound train. Can you imagine? Some possible replies: “Who appointed you as my judge?” or “Oh, yeah, you’re just one of those religious nuts who is really a hypocrite.” There might be a less combative “You live your life and I’ll live mine.”

Did I mention that Old and New Testament prophets did not have a very long lifespan? Seems people back then took a dim view of such passionate spiritual perspective. Aren’t you glad we are so civilized?

Well, if our friend Ezekiel didn’t have all this to consider, The Lord Himself adds a kicker in verse 8 (NLT): “if you fail to warn them … I will hold you responsible.” Oof. What to do? What would you do? Tough questions. Anyone drumming their fingers waiting for an answer?

Wait a minute, you don’t think this applies to us today, do you, Rog? Well, I am wrong a lot and for that matter, what does it matter what I think? I think the only opinion that matters here is God’s. So, let me ask you. Do you think God wants us to engage with others about a relationship with Him? Do you think He will hold us accountable or responsible at some point?

If your answer is a trembling in your sandals “Yes” that is filled with a fear of rejection and a possible trip to Fist City with your neighbor, please allow me to make a suggestion. I wouldn’t suggest hopping on the first available soapbox and describing your vivid, sulfur-suffused vision of Hell that awaits everyone within earshot.

A softer approach could include an invitation to church or if there is an appropriate opportunity, sharing how your trust in God has been a comfort to you. Some people are open to a friendly invitation but aren’t forward enough to ask. Let’s not dismiss the possibility of a positive response. If your faith is a good thing, others might benefit from their own walk with God and you might be the key. Share the wealth! God bless you!

Roger Bruce is pastor of River of Life Community Church in Godfrey. The church is located at 1414 West Delmar.