[image of a ship on stormy seas]

You’re on the boat. How do you look at those drowning in the sea? Do your pupils dilate like an open door to your heart and God’s heart or do they constrict, the gate door slammed shut in judgment?

Check out this comedy sketch from Daniel Tosh: “Does everybody have their WWJD bracelets on? Do you know what that is? What Would Jesus Do? They’re not magical.

They’re just a reminder to be a better person,
to live a better life; it’s true.
Because I was in the movie theater the other
night and this guy’s cell phone went off. Don’t
you just hate that? And then, he picked it up:
‘Hey! How’s it goin’? I’m in a movie.’ And I was
like: ‘Hey get off the phone.’ And he was like,
‘Mind your own business.’ And I almost went
crazy, but then I looked at my bracelet: WWJD?
So I lit him on fire and sent him to Hell. [The
crowd laughs and applauds] I did. And I’ll be
honest. I felt a lot better afterwards; those things
work! [More crowd laughter.]”

Did that make you nervous?
Do you laugh?
Do you cry?
Is it the truth?
Is that what Jesus would do?

Scripture says, “The father… has given all judgment to the son” (John 5:22). It’s clear that there is Eternal Fire and a place we call Hell. What is “Hell?”

Well, most “Evangelical American Christians” seem to believe that Hell is a place where either God Himself actively tortures or allows a group of people to be tortured forever without end.

BUT we also say, “God is good and He loves everyone.” That’s confusing!

In April of 2009 the Pew Research Center conducted a survey asking folks if the torture of suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified and concluded the following and I quote: “White Evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say: ‘Torture is often or sometimes justified.’ People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it.”

You’ve got to admit, that’s a little strange. When you consider that white Evangelical Protestants, of which I am one, are the group that says they take the following words literally: “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also… You have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (torture you).” Does God love his enemies?

Well, we should take all Scripture literally, according to the author’s literal intent. So, there is an eternal fire and there is an outer darkness and a valley of Gehenna. The Bible is packed with violence. A cross is maximum violence, but we’ve perhaps misunderstood the heart of God. And what you believe about the heart of God affects every move you make every breath you take.
One of Philip Yancey’s friends, who works with folks in the inner city, told him the following story:

A prostitute came to me and wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter- at two years old!- to men interested in kinky sex. She made more money renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable- I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.

At last, I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. ” Church!” She cried. ” Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They just make me feel worse.”

Let me paraphrase: A lifeboat? Why would I want a lifeboat? I’m drowning already. Often, I’ve preached that the church is a lifeboat, but a lifeboat won’t work if we won’t sail it into the sea, & a lifeboat won’t work if no one believes that that is what it is: life for the drowning in the sea!

You’re on the boat. How do you look at those drowning in the sea? Do your pupils dilate like an open door to your heart and God’s heart or do they constrict, the gate door slammed shut in judgment?

Did you realize that the cross was the pinnacle of violence, the pinnacle of torture technology in the Roman Empire? Jesus was violently non-violent, which is God’s judgment on us. Jesus made himself a scapegoat saying, “Give me your violence. If someone must be last, I will be last, and whatever you do to the last, you do to me.” That’s the judgment. He descended into the lowest parts of the earth. He tore down every dividing wall by standing on the other side.

Ephesians 2:14
He himself… Has broken down, and his flesh, the dividing wall of hostility… That he might create in himself one new man, and might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross thereby killing the hostility.

We are called to be a church without walls!. According to Paul, there used to be a ministry of condemnation–wall building. BUT Christ has entrusted to us (the Church) the ministry of reconciliation, “For God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” We have the ministry of the open door that no man can shut: “Behold I set before you an open door that no man can shut.”

We are Christ’s body and the wounds we bear in love form his door. Somewhere along the line, the church forgot that we don’t have the ministry of condemnation but reconciliation; we are called to be a lifeboat, not the sea.

So we don’t commit violence but absorb violence.
We don’t inflict torture but sign up for torture.
We don’t crucify we are the fellowship of the crucified; that is our crusade.

Well, Jesus is our lifeboat. He died and descended into the abyss to make us his body and bride. And now we are the lifeboat. God calls us to sail our lifeboat into troubled seas that we would not be a wall of hostility but a door of salvation.

So do you look and see a homeless man, or do you look and see the home of the living God? If you see the first, your eyes will constrict. If you see the latter they will dilate and form an open door.

Do you look and see a prostitute who must be condemned, or do you look and see the Bride of Christ? It’s the difference between a wall and a door.

2 Corinthians 2:14 “The love of Christ controls us.” Why? Because we have concluded this: “One has died for ALL.”

SO…WWJD?–What Would Jesus Do? Well, I know what he did do. He “set himself on fire,” descended into the lower parts of the earth and broke down the gates of Hell from the inside out, and the whole earth is filled with his glory.

And WSCD?–What Should the Church Do? Well, Jesus set the church on fire too. It happened at Pentecost. It’s in Acts chapter 2. He set the church on fire. And then He sent the church sailing. And he said, “The gates of Hell shall not prevail against my church!” There is no place we should be afraid to go with the love of Jesus.
In the name of Jesus, believe the gospel! Do not be afraid of following in our Savior’s footsteps! And go sailing!

Peter’s assistant Kimberly Weynen prepared this devotional. To dig into these things further, click on the link to read the whole transcript and/or watch the sermon: Only God Shuts the Door

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