Easter - 2018

Monday, February 7, 2011

Too Much "in" to get anyone "out."

A few years ago (seven to be exact). I preached a sermon with a story that would become real only a few months later. When Mathew was born and he picked up the staph infection, I began to loose hope. Without hope, fear creeps in and many frightening thoughts and attitudes start to dictate a persons actions. As was the case in me...I was scheduled to drive to a prayer meeting for Matthew and Karen was going to stay with him at the hospital.

Now my mother, a.k.a. Granny, was 400 miles away. About 1:00 PM, a nurse walked in an announced, "Granny is here." Karen and I looked at each other and said, "What?" The nurse responded, "Yeah, Granny is here, can she come in?" We said of course, and sure enough, Granny had arrived.

She then drove me to the prayer meeting and reminded me of the story in the sermon. It goes like this:
A man falls into a hole and can't get out. Along comes a preacher. The man calls out and asks for the preachers help. The preacher preaches a long and awesome sermon. Then walks on.

Along comes Rabbi and the man yells out and asks for the rabbi's help. The Rabbi gives this awesome and well spoken prayer that would cause anyone to weep. Then walks on.

Along comes the man's best friend. The man in the hole hollers out in his loudest voice for help. The man's best friend jumps in the hole with him. Startled, the man says to his friend, "Hey, what are you doing, now both of us are stuck in this hole." The friend answers, "Yeah, but I've been down here before and know the way out."
Granny has been down in the hole a few times and she knows the way out. She heard the despair in her sons voice and she made a quick seven hour drive to Virginia and jumped into the hole with me. Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2; "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." We don't have to read much further to see that Paul is preaching the world will be confused by our faith in the cross and the foolishness our "Christ dedication" will be perceived by our worldly friends, family, and acquaintances.

No matter how attractive we make this package of a dying man, that is God in the flesh, bruised, beaten, bleeding with flesh torn and swollen, the message it contains is going to be a hard sell among current ways of thinking. Our culture wants its money, its time, and its love of self. The cross is not any of those things.

Jesus Christ came out of nowhere. He was a man for all times, at home in no time at all. He came to make visible what was invisible. Jesus Christ brought the eternal truths of God into the arena of daily human life and culture, but he was not enmeshed in that culture. He was not defined by first-century Roman life. His life and his message transcended his culture and time.

Simultaneously, Jesus stood both inside and outside of culture. This ability of the gospel to transform as well as transcend, that is to stand outside of culture as well as inside, is the aspect of the gospel that our present traditional and contemporary efforts lack. I am wondering if as a "church" are too much "in" to be able to lead anyone "out." In other words, we jumped in the hole with the man as his best friend and hung out there so long, we have forget how to get out.

A rediscovering of our passions and the message that Christ is risen from the dead and tht we need to "come awake" is needed in all of our hearts. We need Christ-followers to step up be willing to lead people to the cross. The cross of sacrifice and determination. Worship is defined, "Declaring how much God is worth in your life." Well, in all our technology, our work to meet people where they are and the "stuff" of today's worship, we seem to have neglected the reality that Jesus is worth it all...every effort, every word, every goal, every cent, every sacrifice, and every moment!

I am still thankful for the day Granny arrived and helped me out of the hole. She grasps these things and spends half her year in Africa trying to save children's lives. Currently, she is setting up a special needs school in Neryi, Kenya in honor of her Grandson, Nicholas. She is a passionate woman of faith. I pray someday I will grow up to be more like her.

You know I love ya and lets get out of this hole together. Don

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