So, this was an odd weekend in Central Florida, for in many places it actually snowed! Of course, there were no drifts, only elf-sized snowmen, and try as people might there wasn’t any real opportunity for sledding or skiing… It was gone faster than it had come, but still in Florida any snow is a significant amount of snow.
Snow is a funny thing. It’s just tiny flakes of frozen water that are harmless when experienced individually, but when you get billions and trillions of those tiny flakes put together they can be at once mesmerizing and in the next moment wreak havoc on cities, states, and regions of a country. Those miniscule bits of water that are so innocuous on their own can combine into a storm, a blizzard that literally takes over the lives of everyone it touches. It really is quite amazing when you consider how small and fragile those little flakes are.
I think about the way the early church got started, and I am equally amazed. The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story of how truly ordinary individuals combined in the name of Jesus Christ and under the power of the Holy Spirit to do remarkable things. They faced down an empire, took on the standing religious (both Jewish and pagan) and cultural authorities in several cities, and crossed ethnic boundaries that defied all conventional wisdom… and in the middle of it all they established the single most powerful institution the world has ever known – all according to the plan of God and for His glory. They understood how delicate and perishing their lives were, but by faith they took every opportunity to stand up for the gospel. Acts 5:40-42
But what would those men and women’s lives been like had they not followed the movement of God’s Spirit, if they had not had the courage to stand for the name of Jesus, if they had not gotten caught up in the spiritual storm that surrounded them and followed even in the scary moments?
Too often, modern Christians are more interested in being left alone, maintaining the status quo, not rocking the western-American cultural boat, not joining in the spiritual storm with the generation of believes that have gone before us. We fear what might happen. We don’t want to get too committed. We don’t want to take a stand, because we fear no one will stand with us. We’re too busy being worried about our children’s little league schedules or school projects to take account of their souls. We are too worried about our bottom line to look at our eternal state. We are a people of convenience and non-committance. Our feelings get hurt and so we go elsewhere. We want a “fresh” take on our faith so we join another church.
So, what comes of our lives? The fragility of our own existence exposes the frailty of our faith rather than solidifying it… as it did with the early church. We refuse to join the Spirit for the long-haul and so we live, at best, pleasant but rather fruitless lives.
It’s interesting that when the writer of Hebrews seeks to motivate his audience to lives of active faith he calls out the stories of ordinary men who lived extraordinary lives because they believed in the promises of God, and really lived by them. Hebrews 11 recounts those stories and then in Hebrews 12 we read –
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
He ends with Jesus. What would happen if we really took this passage to heart? What risks might we take for Christ? How committed to his church would we be? How reliant on His Spirit would we have to be? And would our lives really look the way they do now?
We all say, at least to some degree, that we want our lives to matter for something more, but few of us take the chance to actually do it. Only in Christ Jesus do our lives have any hope of eternal significance, but we must have the courage to take the step to truly live for Him.