I have a friend who had something horrible happen to her last year:
In the middle of the night, while she was peacefully sound asleep, a man broke into her house, busting down her door, stole into her room, dragged her out of her bed and into a vehicle and drove off.
Isn’t that awful? Trespassing! How horrible. How rude.
See, there’s one detail that change things dramatically.
Her house was on fire.
She was indeed peacefully sound asleep, completely oblivious. She was incoherent from smoke-inhalation and no idea that flames were engulfing her, floors were collapsing, things were exploding, and that she was moments away from death and she had no idea.
But there was this man. A hero. A firefighter who responded to the call and didn’t consider his own life dear to him but risked his own safety and well-being in order to bust down the door, plunge into the blinding smoke and flames, and rescue an unconscious woman from her bed. He dragged her out, put her in an ambulance, and away she went. She was in a coma for a long time. They didn’t know if she’d make it. By the grace of God, she survived. She’s a mama, about my age. Every day is a gift for her now, because someone recognized the danger, valued her life, and did the loving thing.
That detail about the fire changes everything, yes?
What is the “loving thing to do” depends heavily on the absence or presence of danger.
As my husband always says, the key to humble, Christlike rebuke or confrontation is helping people understand,
“You’re not in trouble, you’re in danger.”
Sin leads to death. Always. Destruction. Regret. Loss.
It is never loving to leave someone alone to die in a burning house.
So of course, the question is, How do we define danger? Who gets to decide when that person’s in danger or not? Who determines the degree of danger? A house-fire is rather obvious, but we certainly shouldn’t break into someone’s house and drag them into the street just because they’re smoking a cigarette in bed. Right? One could argue that that’s dangerous as well. Who decides?
Only the One who created us. Only the one who sees the end from the beginning. Only the one who knows the number of hairs on our heads, grains of sand on the shore, the ones who knit us together in our mother’s womb, who is alone wise. The only One who defines love.
We just finished studying 1 Corinthians as a church, and we ladies are now studying 2 Corinthians. It’s powerful to study them back-to-back, really helping us understand the progression of the story. In 1 Corinthians 5, there were some people who were in danger. Big danger. And all the people around them didn’t go into the burning building to rescue them. They didn’t think that was loving. It seemed rude. Judgmental. So they just stood around outside “accepting” the people’s decisions. In fact, they boasted about their non-judgmental attitudes! But Paul is livid. Why?
Because they weren’t rescuing people from danger. Sure, the steps he suggests taking are extreme. Basically like busting down the door on someone’s house and dragging them out of their beds. Crazy stuff. But later, in 2 Corinthians 7:8-13, we hear the beautiful result, that even though it was ugly at first, every though it was hard, even though there was grieving and hurt and anger and difficulty, that godly grieving brought repentance (turning from sin) which brought …
Rescued from death.
There was anguish. But some precious souls were saved from the fire because someone was willing to look rude and bust down the door of their life and drag them away from danger.
The truth is, we were all asleep in the burning house (Rom 3:23) but Christ made a way of escape by His blood, and now calls us to be His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:18-21), his firemen. Sure, at times our jobs are mundane, we’re cleaning our gear or washing the truck. But other times we’re called on to do something seemingly rude, something scary that might be misinterpreted, something that makes us scared out of our mind, because the presence of danger defines love.
My friend is eternally grateful that a rude guy busted down her door and dragged her out of her house.
Thanks for reading.