Taking a picture too close to a grizzly bear: The urgency and privilege of sharing our message

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Taking a picture too close to a grizzly bear: The urgency and privilege of sharing our message

February 4, 2020 - Jim Denison, PhD

Category-Christianity

It is a photo you don’t want to see—or take.

A woman in Montana was taking pictures when a grizzly bear approached. Her friends and family quickly retreated. The woman, however, continued to look through her camera as the deadly predator approached.

Apparently, she was shooting with a long lens and did not realize how close she was to the bear. Fortunately, the animal left the area without incident.

When I saw this story in my news feed, I had to stop what I was doing to write a post about it. The obvious spiritual lessons came to mind immediately: Like a grizzly bear, Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We are therefore to “flee from sexual immorality” and other temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18) before we succumb to it.

But there’s another angle to this story as well.

The person who reported the woman’s encounter took a picture of her taking a picture of the bear. But he also tried to warn her, shouting at her to alert her to her danger. He said later that “she was either too far away, too focused on taking pictures, or was employing a strategy of ‘don’t move and the bear won’t mess with me’ as she was a statue.”

In other words, the fact that she remained in danger was not his fault.

The urgency and privilege of sharing our message

It is our job as Christians to warn those who are in eternal danger before it’s too late. Their response is not our responsibility. They may hear us and heed our message. They may reject our warning. They may ignore us.

What we do not want them to be able to say one day before God is that we didn’t tell them.

G. Campbell Morgan noted, “To call a man evangelical who is not evangelistic is an utter contradiction.”

We can say that the gospel is right or that it is wrong, but we cannot say that it is irrelevant. If it is true, every person we know will spend eternity in heaven or in hell depending on their response to God’s offer of salvation. If it is false, it is a lie.

If you believe that it is true, that the people you know are in imminent danger from the “bears” they don’t recognize, you must tell them.

Consider this reflection by Frederick Buechner: “For better or worse, it is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him. And they have gone on proclaiming, as the writers of the Gospels proclaimed before them, that through the birth of Jesus a life-giving power was released into the world which to their minds could have been no less than the power of God himself.

“This is the central truth that Matthew and Luke are trying to convey in their accounts of the Nativity. . . . What the birth meant—meant to them, to the world—was the truth that mattered to them most and, when all is said and done, perhaps the only truth that matters to anyone.”

How much does it matter to you?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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