10/14/01, P19C

“Avoiding the Roaring Lion”

"Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy.He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.Take a firm stand against him. And be strong in your faith.Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the worldare going through the same kind of suffering." (I Peter 5:8-9, NLT)

The word today from our government is for us to be vigilant and be careful how we open our mail. If we see something suspicious we are to report it to the police. One television news organization called this, "The high price of freedom." These warnings, as you recognize, carry theological meaning. We know that because God has set us free to think for ourselves and to make decisions that we bear an extraordinary burden about the decisions, good and sometimes not so good, that we make moment by moment. Our freedom as American citizens, deriving it's origin in Scripture, is also a heavy burden. Our personal freedom has allowed unsavory characters to attempt to take our freedom away. Therefore, the Bible repeatedly warns us to be vigilant, to be prepared for whatever might happen.

Today's text captures the mindset that we have as we await the outcome of our nation's bombardment of the Taliban. The King James version says that in situations such as ours that we need to "Be sober, be vigilant..." Our perennial enemy, the Devil, or taking the human form of Hitler or bin Laden, seeks to catch us when we let our guard down, as in the case of America prior to 9/11. Lions in the wild attack weak, sick, or young victims. Lions choose prey that are not alert, or straggling from the herd alone. Our safety is found in the strength of fellow believers. Within a like-minded circle we can talk about our fears and share our feelings as a way of relieving our natural anxiety. During these troubled times the best thing we can do is seek fellow Christians for support.

I have found great strength in the conversations that we have had standing in the hallways of our church, or sitting around the round tables in the fellowship hall. There is a lot of wisdom and spiritual strength in the comments that I have heard from you.

One of the great things that has come out of the past four weeks is the real unity we have as a nation and as a world of civilized people. America has not bombed the Talibad alone, but with our special allies, the British. Canada, Germany and many other nations, including some Islamic moderates, have supported our worthy cause. We have "made a firm stand" against evil forces that would like to destroy us. Together we can accomplish more that we would be able to on our own. This international unity is a reflection of the observation that Saint Peter made in our text that reminded the early Church that, "...your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering." When we know that others are going through the same suffering as we are there is renewed hope.

We also are encouraged by Saint Peter to "be strong in our faith." We can be especially grateful that we serve The Prince of Peace that desires that we come to no harm. We can not imagine a religious faith that would encourage young men to commit suicide and mass murder and be convinced that such atrocities would send them to Paradise. We need to count ourselves blessed because we have been reared in a Christian nation, and in Christian homes. If you were not, you are in a land that allows the free practice of religion and you can make your home a Christian one today. Basic to the call to be ready, is a call to faith. Many people are turning to God during these uncertain times. Married
couples had redoubled their efforts to get along. Indeed, there has been an all-time record of weddings during the last month. America's children are asking deep questions that have required thoughtful answers. Families are seeking out a church home as never before. Hopefully our nation will indeed allow God to, "mend our every flaw," as we constantly, "seek a more perfect union."

Our history haunts us. We have not been flawless. Some have compared the Talibad to our KKK, and other hate groups. There are similarities, but as far as I know none have encouraged suicide, mass murder and none have set a goal to annihilate billions of humans who don't accept their distorted views, as have the Taliban and other radical Islamic groups.

I felt the fear that many decent Muslims must feel today as they face the terror of the Talibad. When I was Pastor in Stone Mountain First the KKK would hold their annual parade down Main Street marching in front my church. One Saturday they marched during a wedding in our Sanctuary and on the tape recording of the ceremony the chants of "White Power" could be heard. As I stood on our church's front steps and watched part of the parade my black robe was in stark contrast to the white hood worn by the KKKs so called, chaplain. Do you recall that their fear tactic was to burn a cross, casting disparagement upon our Cross of Christ? We do not hear much out of the KKK anymore and we hope that the same may soon be said about the Talibad.

We are glad that our nation, and it's international coalition, has taken such a strong stand against "the Roaring Lion." We do feel great sorrow for the innocent civilian victims in Afghanistan, some of whom will victims of war. However, it is heartening to know that we are dropping bread as we drop bombs. We pray for the children of such a war torn land. Many children have heard sounds of gunfire all of their lives. We all hope that when the war is over that the children can be reclaimed and given a chance to lead a normal life.
We also pray for those in our nation who are preaching words of fear and guilt. Some are saying that the world faces Armageddon and that God is out to destroy us. I don't think so. We believe that God is busy allowing His people to grow toward spiritual maturity as a result of these times. If it is true that pain is God way of getting our attention, as C.S. Lewis called it, "God's Megaphone," we have our ears and hearts open now as never before. Let's remain alert and vigilant as we seek more of God during these days ahead! May God Bless America, and everybody everywhere.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

10/14/01, P19C