There was a man named Ignaz Semmelweis who lived in the mid 1800’s. He was a young doctor who worked the maternity ward at the Vienna General Hospital in Hungary. He was distressed that so many young mothers died of an infection they labeled “childbed fever”. The young doctor had made a vital discovery. He observed a correlation between the occurrence of the infection and the frequency of hand-washing among the doctors and nurses. The older doctors ridiculed him and ignored his suggestions that hands should be washed after treating each patient.
My mother was a surgical scrub nurse. She would often come home with stories of things that happened in surgery. Most of her job was making sure that all the instruments were sterilized. It is amazing to think of the ignorance that prevailed 160 years ago. Many young women lost their lives as a result of the blindness of their physicians regarding the dangers of bacteria. (1)
There is a blindness that prevails in America today in regard to sin and death. If we believe the lie and refuse the truth it will not lead only to death but to eternal death. A man who hears the truth of Christ and puts that truth into practice is like a “man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6:48-49
A wise man builds his life on the rock of truth. A foolish man builds his life on the sands of pleasure and leisure and deception. What is it about this man that makes him a fool? He is hasty, always in a hurry. The father gave advice to his son in Proverbs 1 when he said a fool’s feet “rush into sin.” The fool is in a hurry. The fool always looks for the shortcut. My father always told me, “A job done right is a job well done.” He used to say, “If you do it right the first time you don’t have to do it again.” And then he would send me back to the same row of strawberries to pull all the weeds I’d missed.
False and foolish Christians don’t want to take time to dig a foundation for their spiritual lives. They want a quick-fix relationship with Christ. A shallow relationship with Jesus Christ is no relationship with Jesus Christ. He despises such half-heartedness and he used strong words to express it in Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” We have become accustomed to having everything quick: instant breakfast, fast food, lighting speed internet. Cell phones companies compete by claiming they can provide a faster download service. We want to evangelize the same way. It requires too much effort to build on the rock. We want to employ shortcuts and cut corners and build a quick house on the sands of modern methods of commercialism and recent strategies of pleasing the consumer.
In our efforts to evangelize we pander to the wants of the sinner rather than to his needs. What kind of music does he want? What kind of counseling? What kind of entertainment will lure the sinner to our church? Meanwhile, the sheep are starving. Jesus didn’t try to lure the sheep into the fold. He left the fold and went out looking for the lost sheep. The apostolic church model was not created for sinners, it was created for believers. It’s strange how we pander to sinners instead of disciple Christians in the modern church. We have no time for careful sermon preparation so we borrow from someone more industrious. We are too impatient to allow the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to lost souls. We want quick and instant conversions. We certainly have no time to meet together to pray for the lost. We are in too much of a hurry to build a deep sense of the holiness of God for our congregations and our families. We would rather entertain and tickle the ears of the masses with entertaining stories and shallow truths that do not offend rather than teach and preach the deep, meaningful doctrines of God’s word.
I grew up in a household of all brothers. We detested the Saturday morning assignment to do housework. We were typical young boys who hated sweeping and mopping floors, doing dishes and dusting furniture. The yard and garden work were far more appealing. In our haste to finish a hated job we often would sweep up a pile of dust and instead of grabbing the dust pan one would lift the corner of the rug while another would sweep the dust under it.
Some seek a quick conversion by sweeping their sins under the rug. They try to do Christianity in a half-hearted way. Don’t come to Christ if you are not going to come all the way. No man builds a tower until he counts the cost. If you are going to become a follower of Christ count the cost. What will it cost? It will cost you everything. Building the house on the rock, digging the foundation, carefully laying out plans and protecting your structure from the deception of the enemy will require not only a great amount of faith but also a great amount of effort. It’s not something that can be done halfway.
Accepting Christ should not be a hasty thing. Artificial Christians are the result of artificial conversions. A quick prayer and a quick baptism and you’re on your way. It seems some people are converted before they even realize they are lost. What is very rare today but what Christ wants most is broken-heartedness for sin. He wants a true, deep, and heartfelt repentance. A man may not fully realize the depth of his own depravity in an instant. We often don’t know how deeply rotted the meat is until we cut deeply into it. A man must have his heart cut deeply by the Holy Spirit of God before he realizes how putrid with sin his soul really is.
1. Centers for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol7no2/cover.htm)