The Parable Of The Punch-Less Boxer.
Beware of the fear of man!
Christians in America these days live out their lives in fear and trembling. The only problem is it's the wrong kind of fear and trembling. We're afraid of offending people with the truth of the Gospel, more specifically their sin. We're afraid that people won't come to our church and our church will die out. Is this a rational fear though?
There once was a man in a boxing gym who wanted to be the champion of the world in boxing. He was there everyday and worked hard. He ran, did push ups, sit ups, the speed bag, jumping rope, heavy-bag and weight lifting. However, there was one thing he refused to do: when it came time for sparring, he never threw any punches at his sparring partner. When I made this discovery, I asked why he never seems to throw any punches. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't want to hurt anybody... I used to land punches, but people kept getting mad at me every time I did. So I decided to come up with a more gentle approach to boxing. Now people love getting in the ring with me!"
Fight night arrived for this well-conditioned young man. He jumped in the ring, danced around, tapped gloves with his opponent and proceeded to not move his hands in any way other than to block. Within 30 seconds of the first round, the referee called off the fight. This man who wanted to be the boxing champion of the world, yet didn't want to hurt anybody, was disqualified within seconds of his first and only fight. How tragic...
My question to you, brothers and sisters is this: Are you like this boxer who refuses to throw punches? Are you afraid to share the Gospel with someone because you're afraid you might hurt their feelings?
"After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds."
I was reading this passage this week on Good Friday and this particular part broke my heart to pieces. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were prominent figures among the Jewish people, so their position held a lot of weight. They also had just watched the man they believed in get crucified, so it's almost understandable. You can have some compassion on these people in that context, I suppose... However, let's rewind in the book of John a little bit and you'll see where their heart really is.
"Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God."
Yes, that was before the crucifixion! In that context they were afraid to confess Jesus Christ as Lord because they would be put out of the synagogue. Boo freakin' hoo! I have no sympathy on those people because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. That's why we hear nothing else about these people in church history.
But, are we really any better?
Seriously, what are we afraid of? Whatever we're afraid of, we're controlled by. Whatever we're controlled by, we worship on some level. So let me ask you again, what is it you bow down to? Are we afraid of people not wanting to come to our church? I mean, if people don't come to our church, how can they get saved? How will they ever know about Jesus? If people tell us they don't want to come to our church, does that mean we're responsible for their eternity in hell? Let me give you a clear answer: NO!
We are not responsible for the decisions other people make as to whether they want to follow Christ or not