1st Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10
“Chillaxing in the Word of God”
Several years ago and working in a business where every second seemed to be a knife edge moment with every one running around as though if we didn’t meet that deadline, the deadline after the one before and the one before the one to come after, then the walls would fall down.
It was often a “pressure cooker” environment and a volatile work place that would see good friends end in harsh verbal combat, see strong men and women broken and in tears in full public view and trusted work colleagues knifing each other in the blame game and/or for promotional gain.
It was not an enjoyable way to spend eight to twelve or more hours a day and the only thing I enjoyed about it was standing shoulder to shoulder with my team of thirty amongst the sea of 2,000 in that building.
One Monday morning, my trusted colleague and good friend Kevin after telling me that a forty year old man from his team had died suddenly from a heart attack while at the pub went on to say, “at least he died doing something he liked and not in this place” and then finished with “life is serious, but nothings this serious”.
His point was well made and like in that building when taking a step back and viewing from afar we often see that life is serious, but nothing as serious as what we make it to be.
His words have always stuck with me until Wednesday this week when looking through my office window and seeing a young boy walking to school on his own looking lonely, dejected and nervous, in even a sinner like me I felt a desire to run to him with the only real comfort that can be offered in an uncomfortable world and that is the hope in Jesus Christ. I didn’t run to him, I didn’t have enough courage, but I prayed for him-because that’s all I had.
And again amid a heavy heart, I had that overwhelming sense that if a person like me can feel even a little compassion, what must be the endless compassion of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, and the workings of the Holy towards that boy, towards atheists, boat people, criminals, the beggars on the street, the power driven CEO, the corrupt politician, the mother, the husband, their children, and to me, and to you.
A heavy heart that brought clear the seriousness of their and our eternal lives and of the seriousness of their pain felt and their hope needed, and a heavy heart, that brought meaning to the words of John 9, verse 4; That “we must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.”
Words of urgency and of truth born of our Lord and Saviour in His quest that they that know him not and have their eyes opened to the blessed hope that is he.
Yet words of them, that for myself saw me convicted in my inability, powerlessness and failure towards God and His people.
In the reading from 1St Peter and in much of scripture we are told clearly that just as Christ suffered, so too are those that follow Him not immune to suffering and just as Jesus, our sinless Saviour, faced unjust suffering and death, so may we be called to take up our cross to follow Him.
We all here have crosses to bear born of hurt, of innocence lost from our and others sin and of that daily fight within us against what we do that we wish we not. They are heavy crosses that we bear as best we can. But none so heavy that comes from knowing the underserved grace of Christ for ourselves while seeing the hurt and suffering and the aimless and unfulfilled quest for hope of those that know Him not, and the unjudging words of Heath Ledgers friend after hearing of his death from a drug overdose come to mind when he remarked “that this world was too much for Heath to live in while carrying a soul tortured from seeing the hurt and suffering of others.
Walt Whitman, a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War and poet wrote this:
“I sit and look out.
I sit and look out upon the sorrow of the world, and upon all oppression and shame,
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done,
I see in low life the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt and desperate,
I see the wife misused by her husband; I see the treacherous seducer of young women,
I mark the rankling’s of jealousy and unrequited love attempted to be hid, I see theses sights on the earth,
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny. I see martyrs and prisoners,
I observe a famine at sea, I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be killed to preserve the lives of the rest,
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor and upon slaves, and the like;
All these-all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look out upon,
See, hear, and am silent.”
There’s a saying that bad things happen when good people do nothing and as Christians we may feel that the lost feel no hope when we in hope remain still.
John 9, verse 4; “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.”
A piece of scripture known well by evangelist Billy Graham who most certainly did not remain still. A tireless worker of the Lord given the ability to travel the globe standing before thousands pronouncing the Word of God, a man consulted by Presidents of America and the rich and the powerful. Yet a man that wrote this of himself:
“I will hear him call my name not because I have preached for more than seventy years. Not because I have done anything good…The Lord Jesus has heard my confession of sin, my acknowledgement of need, and he reached down and saved me. He purchased my soul with his blood….I know he is coming back soon. This is my hope. And yours.”
“Carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.” Like Billy Graham I am certain there are people here or reading this that will do great things for the Lord.
Great things like you did yesterday in your work place or walking down the street. How you fixed someone’s car so that they could continue to work and feed their family. The smile you gave to the intimidating stranger or the prayers you made for the person that passed you by that you had not the courage to talk to.
There’s a time to live and a time to die. A time to work and a time to play. Calm times and chaotic times. Yet whether we be of modern speak and in chillax ,or of times past and just telling it how it is and chilling and relaxing, Jesus Christ walks with us with the promise that He will give us the strength to bear the crosses we bear in following Him.
Shakespeare said “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so” and interestingly as I went to get a coffee a moment ago I heard a song that I thought started with the words “My life is useless”, but on replay the musician actually started with “My life is brilliant” followed with “My love is pure. (And on the subway) I saw an angel of that I’m sure. So to can be the confusing in our own abilities or short comings because just like people might like the width of the tyres on my wanting to be restored 1999 MR2, yet not so much the extra width of the owner, so too do we sometimes have to “fly blind” and just have wing it as we are.
Jesus said that “the sheep hear his voice; he calls them out, and when he has brought them out, he goes ahead and the sheep follow.”
Jesus is real and so are you, and as He is in you as you are, so too can you be Him to others as they are, that as we have heard His voice, so may they.
Catholic Priest Henri Nouwen wrote: “I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.”
Christ made Himself vulnerable that we hear His voice of truth and having been redeemed and called, our lives are to be redemptive: that all the sheep may be turned toward the shepherd and Guardian of their souls: that all the world, through us may hear his voice, see His great love, and be found in Him.
So too let us be vulnerable in the truth that we have nothing if not in Christ, and that we be of flesh and blood, of ability and inability, and capable of both strength and weakness here His Words from 2nd Corinthians 12:9, that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”,
In His grace we walk this earth where we are and as we are and need not despair of our failures, but revel in the truth that not we, but He, beats our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks.
Our sin and His goodness and our Christian lives don’t adhere to a work/life balance format. They are all mixed together and we need only carry the tools in the vessel that He has provided.
You are that vessel and as you carry His forgiveness, Hope and Salvation with you, so too He will carry people before you, that in you as you are, they may see Him in them as they are-and know His peace. Amen.