by Chris Rollins, Steve Howard, Frank Robinson, Tim, Tyler and Trey Kirkes (fellow hikers)
One of the saddest events in Jesus’ life happened when He went to visit His childhood home. He had returned to Nazareth to teach and minister and received a hostile welcome. The story is told in Mark 6:1-6. Some who showed up to hear Jesus teach in the synagogue were amazed, but the majority was offended. Their scoffing, chiding and insulting can be boiled down to one phrase: “He’s nothing special.” To them Jesus was an ordinary guy people should not be making an extraordinary fuss over.
“A prophet is not honored in his hometown.” This was Jesus’ reply to the scoffers and it gets to the heart of the situation. Prophets deliver God’s word, they relay God’s message to human beings. The majority of Nazarenes didn’t want to hear God’s will; they didn’t want God to interfere with their lives. Their justification for not listening: “Jesus appears to be an ordinary guy.” They missed the opportunity to hear God speak through His Son.
2000 years later we who call ourselves followers of Christ know who He is. But do we act differently? We say Jesus is extraordinary, but do we treat Him as ordinary? Do we take the opportunity to gather with Him every week (Jesus is present, Matthew 18:20) or miss it because we think, “It happens every week, I’ll go some other time, it is ordinary.”
When we hear or read the Bible and God is speaking to us do we pay attention or miss the opportunity because we think, “I’ve heard that before, it doesn’t apply to me, it is ordinary.”
When we pray do we pray earnestly and sincerely, believing the God of the universe is listening or do we think about our grocery lists, who’s playing or how much longer will this prayer go on?
When we treat lightly the real, extraordinary presence of Christ in the gathered community, when we treat as ordinary the sacred word and corporate prayer, we have missed that opportunity to be with and be transformed by our Lord.
You may have seen the news from Springfield Illinois: "Thieves nabbed a 3-foot-long copper sword atop Lincoln’s Tomb in what is believed to be the first theft at the site in more than a century." Copper theft has become pretty common, why did this one make headlines? Because it’s the tomb of Abraham Lincoln whose life and sacrificial leadership gave us a country free of slavery. To steal from Lincoln's tomb is to desecrate the ideals of the United States of America. This means the thieves were either anti-American or they were ignorant of history - either way they are guilty of irreverence, that is, taking lightly those things which are heavy. We’ve all been guilty of this.
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for God’s honor and glory is “kabod.” It means “heavy.” When we treat lightly the truly weighty things of God we lack reverence for Him. American Christianity has been guilty of this by being both anti-“take up your cross” and ignorant.
We treat lightly the command to gather regularly, we treat lightly the instruction to listen to the word AND obey, we steal from God by not tithing, we refuse to be like our Lord and hold grudges instead of forgiving. We have turned the command to love others into an attitude of the heart when it is actually a call to action. We call ourselves followers of Christ, followers of the one who said, ‘Take up your cross daily and follow me,” (Luke 9:23), but we have remade that cross into recliner.
The tomb we have stolen from is the empty tomb, the from which Christ rose to give us new Life, capital “L.” Irreverence is thinking our life, small “l” is of more importance than His.
Here's a link to an article by Ben Witherington that contains some sound advice to churches that closed their doors on Christmas, 2005. http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2005/12/churches-closed-on-christmas.html
In 2005, the last time Christmas was on Sunday, the stories of mega churches closing on December 25 made headlines. The irony of the world telling the church to be the church couldn't be missed. But the greater irony may have been missed: Christians would rather stay home than gather to worship the One who left His home to be with us on Christmas.
Psalm 77:19 (NIV) says, “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”
You, like the Psalmist, may find yourself stuck. You are in a never ending cycle, a situation you cannot get out of and you're convinced things will never change. You are partly right – there is no human way out, no human way past the roadblock. But the Psalmist remembered God sees what we don’t and makes paths we can't. When God’s people were trapped at the edge of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army behind them, impassable mountains on both sides they were convinced it was the end. They couldn’t imagine a path through the sea because their hope was in their puny strength and limited ability, that's why they despaired.
God has paths we can’t see, He has not only already made the way, He has walked it and left His footprints. Are you simply trusting Him and letting Him lead you daily (today)? Let God worry about the about the army, the mountains, and the sea. Trust Him to provide and lead you down a path you have not even imagined.
I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.
- William Carey
My name is Tim Kirkes. I am honored to be the a child of my heavenly Father, the husband of Lisa, the father of two boys and the pastor of San Dimas Wesleyan church.