Published October 17, 2017

Paul's Epistle
"Shouting The Warning"

Picture this in your mind: Someone you love – perhaps a son or daughter, spouse or other family member – is, for whatever reason, going for a walk down a railroad track, alone.

As they walk, they're enjoying some of their favorite tunes with earbuds firmly plugged into their ears and, of course, into their iPod. All's right with the world. It's a beautiful day. In fact, from a distance, you can see this person simply enjoying a walk.

But then, to your horror, you see a speeding train approaching this person from behind. You scream a warning, but the in-ear music blocks out your frantic cries and even the sound of the approaching train.

Now you're running, screaming at the individual to get off the track, but they don't see or hear you. The train's engineer spots the trespasser and sounds his whistle. Trains cannot stop on a dime, you know. (A train traveling at 55 mph takes a mile to stop!) The engineer's warnings, too, go unheard and, of course, unheeded.

If the walker doesn't hear the warnings – or ignores them – and if you can't reach him in time -- his doom is inevitable. You don't tangle with a train and survive.

Just this past May, a 55-year old man walking on train tracks and listening to music on his iPod was struck and killed near Hartford, Michigan. The train had approached the man from behind and, apparently, the man had no idea of his peril until it was too late. Ironically, a 23-year old man – also walking with headphones in his ears – was killed by another train near the same location two years earlier.

If only someone could have shouted a warning. If only those men weren't so distracted by the music blaring in their ears. If only they could have heard the train's warning whistle before it was too late.

These men could not say that they hadn't been warned. Most railroads are clearly posted with "no trespassing" and/or "Danger!"signs. And common sense would dictate that you should not walk down an active railroad track – just as you would not obliviously go for a stroll down the middle of a busy highway.

Two observations:

First, your unsaved friends and loved ones are like those men walking down a railroad track, oblivious to their oncoming demise. They have no idea that, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, this life could end – and their death would bring eternal punishment.

Sure, they've heard warnings about all this – perhaps from you. But they're just not listening. They've turned up the "music of this world" in their ears to block out your warnings.

Friend, you need to redouble your efforts to break through this static and reach this person – before it's too late. Each year, more than 500 people die in the U. S. while walking along railroad tracks and subsequently being struck by a train, according to Operation Lifesaver. Each year, millions of unsaved individuals die doomed to hell because they have "blocked out" warning shouts from Christian friends.

Second, the world these days confuses love and hate. If you'd see your loved one walking down that railroad track and you shouted a warning, would that be an expression of love? Or hate? Obviously, it would be love.

But if you shouted a warning to your unsaved friends that they should repent and accept Christ as Lord or be lost forever -- which, of course, would be ultimately much worse than being hit by a train -- the world would say that's an expression of "hate." The only "hate" here is our hatred of sin. And sin, of course, is something the world loves and understands. So what we see as love, the world sees as hate. We should never confuse the two, knowing that the warning itself — a warning against sin — is a great expression of love. Remember, as Paul says, " not let your good be spoken of as evil" (Romans 14:16).

Please, do all you can to shout that warning – over and over again, as needed – to your unsaved family and friends. The "train" is fast approaching. Remember, you're doing it as an expression of your love. But it's based on the ultimate expression of love found in John 3:16, and evidenced by Christ's sacrificial death on the Cross.  Now, that's love! 

Oh, and stay off railroad tracks.

- Paul

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