If you’ve never heard the term “Bike Rodeo”, let me explain this little joy to you; Every year, our local Police Department partners with local schools to sponsor an event in which young children are encouraged to bring their bikes to school for a safety inspection and to practice riding through an obstacle course. It really is a lot of fun. This year, my 2nd grade daughter was ready for her first Bike Rodeo. We spent time installing all of the necessary safety equipment; Horn, Bell, Headlights, and Taillights (Where was all this stuff when we were kids?!?).
Next up, practicing and riding through our little neighborhood. Picture a giggling 8 year old proudly shouting, “Daddy, watch!”, “Daddy look!” as she peddled down each cul de sac. Showing off her safety training, she would stop at each stop sign and in exaggerated fashion look both directions for traffic. And then, peddle off again as I walked a few yards behind.
“Car!” I’d shout, and she would stop peddling and pull to the curb as a car would slowly pass and wave.
All was well until I saw it… and it all seemed to happen in slow motion… a large black SUV backing out of an elevated driveway, unable to see my little girl.
Baby, stop.. car.
She kept peddling.
She kept peddling.
She turned quickly, lost her balance and toppled over, unhurt, but frightened at my tone.
Baby, whey didn’t you stop?!? You saw the car, you heard me yelling for you to stop!
“Daddy, I saw the car. I was ringing my bell so they would stop!”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. She was trying, as hard as she could, doing the “right thing” and ringing her little bell to stop the suburban that would have crushed her as she rang it.
But her peril wasn’t subjective. It wasn’t dependent on her effort or use of what she thought to be the right tool. Her little barbie bicycle bell was, simply worthless to stop the impending threat.
I want you to hold onto that image as we look at a threat even greater to people even more helpless.
There is an event coming which, to paraphrase John Piper is 10,000 times 10,000 times more certain and heavy than the threat of a truck backing out of a driveway. It’s arrival is certain, and its impact will be felt by every man, woman, and child who has ever lived.
We will all be judged by the perfect, holy standard of God.
I want to challenge you, individually, to know that this event is a certainty. It’s coming. And the only salvation is repentance and faith in Christ’s sacrifice for your sin. There is no other salvation. You can ring your little bell, you can use any other name, faith, or excuse.
The church is full of hypocrites.
I believe that all roads lead to the same truth.
There is no God. I am my own truth.
Ring… Ring… Ring.
And for those of us in Christ, I want to present this challenge to you in a different manner. I hear the bell ringing in the modern church going on every day. There is one thing, and one thing alone which will stop those who do not know Christ from peddling into the path of their destruction, ringing their bells as they go;
The good news that God has reconciled sinners to himself by grace through faith in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
But we don’t believe that, really. Sure, we’ll throw that up on a webpage somewhere under the “Word of God” section on our “What We Believe” tab under the “About Us” page. But do we really believe that? Or do we ring our bells? Our bells of pragmatism, our bells of technique, or bells of attraction, our bells of relevancy, and our bells of “mission”.
I think the American church is still orthodox enough to believe and confess that WE are saved by grace through faith in Christ and not works, but our actions seem to indicate that we believe “THEY” are saved by our works and not the power of the Gospel (well, not without our help, anyway.)
So, the church rings its bells, to ourselves and to “them”.
Be still and listen to what God is speaking to your heart. (Mysticism)
Give your best to God and He’ll give His best to you! (Moralism)
God loves everyone and would never judge people for being who he made them to be. (Rationalism)
Ring. Ring. Ring.
And to “THEM”?
Put on a show they will want to see to attract “them”
Build relationships with “them” and win them to our community.
Build missional models, employ leadership techniques, and leverage demographic research to cast vision to “reach them” for Christ.
Give them messages which will create “life change” through being better parents, and better spouses. Tell them how to live their best life now! Tell them that God has an incredible purpose for them, to “release the champion within them” if they’ll just be “audacious” enough to “go for it”!
Our actions speak louder than our words. We simply do not believe that God will use the simple, foolish, offensive message of the gospel to change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh and save sinners from God’s just wrath.
God has promised in his word to use the simple means of grace; Word, Water, Bread and Wine to save and feed his sheep.
Preach the word. Shout it out until they stop and topple. Or they will keep ringing their bells, and we along with them, as they are crushed.
“They” don’t reject Christ because we lack the model, the technique, or the “hook”. Scripture clearly tells us that “they” reject Christ because they are at enmity with God. So you can build the model, master the technique, and design the ultimate “hook”.. and join with them in ringing a new bell headed for the same truck.
Ring. Ring. Ring.