Thursday, March 24, 2011
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It was an overflow night some years ago at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky. Such an overflow night, that they had to move a lot of extra chairs into a ballroom which was supposed to seat 800. And now, somehow they had squeezed in like 1,200 people. There was a famous performer on stage that night, and he had some comedians on to warm up the crowd in advance.
Walter Bailey was an 18-year-old bus boy, who walked in and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, there's been a fire in the kitchen and I would suggest you evacuate the room." Well, they couldn't see any fire, and strangely enough, nobody moved at his warning. And that night, 160 people died in that room in Kentucky. Because only minutes later, smoke and fire just burst into the room. And you know it was a needless tragedy. The bus boy couldn't believe it, and later as he was sorting out the reasons why people wouldn't move, he said, "You know, a lot of people had a good spot, and they had really fought to get a good spot that night. And they just didn't want to lose it." Wow, a lot of people make that mistake. Often, with tragic results.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Fear of Losing Your Place."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John chapter 12, and I'm going to read beginning at verse 42. We're reading about some of the responses to Jesus as He nears the end of his life and His march to the cross. "Yet at the same time, many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees, they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."
You know, this story is about people who had a good spot, like those folks at the supper club. Yeah, they had made it to the top. They were leaders in touch with the Pharisees. They were in the high decision making councils of the Jewish leadership. Like the people at that supper club, they didn't want to lose their good spot, even if it meant betraying Jesus.
Well, not much has changed over 2,000 years. You get into the position you've wanted so much, and suddenly taking a stand for Christ in that setting could jeopardize that position. Now, you have a choice: whose praise do I love more? It says here that these people did want God's praise; they did love God's praise, but they loved the praise of men more. They deeply valued it is actually what the word means. And that conflict as to whose praise you will get - God's or men's - will tear you up inside.
See, the problem is the more position you have, the more you have to lose. You may be in a group of friends right now where a stand for Christ would cost you. Or you're in a career position where it might be expensive to take that stand. Or in a relationship that you might lose, or a Christian leadership position where being true to Jesus might put you in an unpopular position. Ironically, a position that is supposed to give you power might also be a prison. You're locked up inside like these people in the Bible by the fear of losing.
Ask yourself, "Will I risk losing something precious or powerful to stand for my belief?" It's time to reaffirm whose you are, and whose you will be long after your current position is a memory. He will honor you if you honor Him. So, break out of the prison of loving men's praise more than God's.
If you won't stand for Christ where you are, then it might be time to ask, "Do you have that position, or does that position have you?"