Human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. When you hear a word from me, deliver my warning. f I declare that the wicked will die but you don’t warn them, if you say nothing to warn them from their wicked ways so that they might live, they will die because of their guilt, but I will hold you accountable for their deaths. – Ezekiel 3:17-18 (CEB)
In, Lookout, I wrote about the differing responsibilities of the messenger and the hearer of God’s word. While I am thankful not to be responsible for the hearer’s response, it is still difficult to just stand by and watch. As a parent, I watch my kids struggle with things and want to help them. I don’t want them to be in pain or to fail. But at some point, I need to let them figure things out on their own. I’m there with them, supporting them, hurting with them – but eventually they need to make their own choices. It is the same for those I pastor.
If you do warn the wicked and they don’t turn from their wickedness or their wicked ways, they will die because of their guilt, but you will save your life. – Ezekiel 3:19 (CEB)
Most of the decisions my kids have made were not life and death decisions. But when it comes to God’s word, I believe this is a message of life and death. This is another problem I have of simply being the lookout. It’s hard to be joyful that I’ve saved my own life when I’m watching others lose theirs.
Maybe this is when my role as lookout becomes “Look out!”
This week is Christ the King Sunday. This is the last Sunday of the church year (November 30 will be the first week of Advent). It is on Christ the King Sunday that we worship Christ as King, which includes Christ as Judge. I wonder how many churches, which normally follow the church calendar, will actively talk about judgment this week. We don’t like judgment. We like Jesus as the Good Shepherd but not as the returning King whose appearance in glory includes ushering in a period of judgment (this week’s Gospel lesson is Matthew 25:31-46).
There’s not enough room here to go into this in detail (that’s for my sermon tomorrow) but the power of Christ the King is the power to save. This power is the power to gather us from the far reaches and crags that we have wandered to. It is the power to throw Death and the Grave into the fiery lake and to say that death will be no more (Revelation 19:14, 20:4).
The world tells us a lie about life and death. It tells us that we are being too serious or extreme. It says that we can cheat death and that life is found another way. Certainly, we will not die, will we?
Jesus tells us that we will not die but have eternal life. The world tells us this is a lie as well. But we know the truth. We know that both life and death are real. We know that our treasure is in heaven – not here where moth and rust destroy. Or where economies go into recession, where illness manifests itself regardless of whether we are good or evil, where people we trust will fail us, where lies are held up as truth.
On this Christ the King Sunday, I’m thinking a lot about Ezekiel. I am thinking about my responsibility to be faithful to what God has called me to and at the same time allow you the responsibility of responding to what you hear. I am thinking about my role to say, “Look out!” when the kingdoms of this world tell us their lies. And I do this not to simply save my own life, but so that yours may be saved as well. Thank God for Christ the Good Shepherd, and also Christ the King.