Jump Start # 2179
Galatians 5:15 “But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.”
I was flipping through a hymn book the other day and stopped at the song, “The World’s Bible.” That song is based upon a passage from 2 Corinthians where Paul declared that the Corinthian brethren are “our letter…known and read by all men.” There is a lot of truth to that song. The only thing many people know today about the Lord is what they see in others. We have become the only Bible the world will ever know.
In that hymn, there are two penetrating questions, “What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?” What if our impression of Jesus, our example, our influence, our light-shinning, isn’t so bright? The answer is obvious. We leave the wrong impression. Our faith can be a joke and many will wonder why do I need that? We can stand with one foot in the world and one foot in Christ and that certainly seems inconsistent, convenient and compromising. Why the call to leave sin, when you Mr. Christian embrace the sin of your choice?
Blurred print and crooked type. I have some old books in which the print is blurred and the type is crooked. It is very hard to read, and it doesn’t take too much to get a headache. It’s hard on the eyes. And, when that’s the impression of our influence, we are really doing more harm than good.
Here are some thoughts:
First, there are times when Christians can act very unchristian. Our verse today is a sad reminder of that. Instead of standing together. Rather than being united, they were destroying each other. They were biting and devouring one another. They had turned on each other. They were shooting each other, not the enemy. It wouldn’t take too long until they would destroy each other. You may have seen this repeated in our times. Ugly business meetings. Brethren leaving angry and slamming doors. Finger pointing. Shouting. Gossip. Trying to gather support against the other side. Tears. And, finally, some quitting and never coming back. Those are dark days. Hard to get excited about bringing someone into such a mess like that. Jesus had to deal with similar attitudes among His disciples. On one occasion some wanted to destroy a town with fire. Jesus would not have any part with that. Other occasions, they tried to stop some from doing good. Blurred and crooked can leave the wrong impressions.
Second, we are not the perfect example, Jesus is. Jesus has always been. Each of us is a work in progress. Some areas we may be doing very well in, others we tend to look a bit crooked and blurry. It’s not the church that saves, but Jesus. It’s not the church that is perfect, but Jesus is. The church may let us down, Jesus never will. The church may neglect you, the Lord won’t. The church may even hurt your feelings, God won’t. Too often we place the credibility of Christianity upon the people and not upon the Lord. Someone will say, “I know someone who goes to your church, and he sure cusses at work.” Blurred print. Crooked type. Those statements used to silence me. I didn’t know what to say. Any more, I respond by saying, “I can tell you more horror stories, but you’ll never see Jesus cussing in the Bible. In fact, one of His apostles did, Peter. So, it doesn’t surprise me that today, some still do it.” Then, I add, “Because he cussed, do you think it’s alright for you to cuss?” “Well, no,” he’ll say. “But, he’s not being a very good member.” And from that, we can get into a discussion of perfection. The perfect dad. The perfect husband. The perfect worker. The perfect citizen. And, before long we both realize that we blurred print and crooked type, yet Jesus loves us and invites us. Everyone needs Jesus.
It is important to draw the attention away from the church to the Bible and to Christ. Guilty church leaders who have been arrested and made the news is all a carnal world needs to say that Christianity is a sham. It’s not. Many are not serious about their walk. Many are hiding rather than confessing their sins. Many are following a counterfeit form of Christianity that is blurred and crooked to start with.
Third, crooked type and blurred print doesn’t change what the Bible says. So, there are some who are hypocrites. So, there are some who are not very serious. So, there are some who are not committed. So, there are some who have never left the world, nor crucified the old man. Does any of that change what the Bible says? Because atheism thrives on college campuses, does that change what the Bible says? Because same-sex marriages are now accepted by the law, does that change what the Bible says? Too many are crowd followers rather than disciples of Jesus. So nobody cares. What’s your excuse? You know what the Bible says. You are to do what God expects. God doesn’t give you a pass because others are not with you. There at Sardis, a church that Jesus declared dead, there were a few that were doing what was right. The ole’ Popeye cartoon, had Popeye saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” That may work for Popeye in a cartoon, but it’s not Biblical. You are to do what is right, even if you must walk alone. Joshua declared, “As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.” He said this after telling the nation, serve whom you may. Serve the gods in this land, or serve the gods where we came from. My mind is made up. We are serving the Lord.
Follow the Lord, not the crowd. This may mean that no one is practicing hospitality, you can. You can invite folks over to your home, even though no one will invite you to their home. No one volunteers to teach. You can. No one will help clean the place up. You can. No one ever invites anyone to come to worship. You can. No one studies their Bible class lesson and comes prepared. You can. All around you may be crooked and blurred type. You can either throw up your hands and become that as well, or you can do what the Bible tells you to do.
I have found that often that’s all it takes. Someone takes the lead. Someone takes charge. And, soon, others are there as well. They have been waiting for someone to come along who cares. They have allowed themselves to become blurred and crooked. And, now, seeing you, they step up. There is a spirit that begins to run through the air. It’s like opening the windows and allowing the fresh air to come in. What a difference. Song leaders put more time, effort and energy into what they are doing. The Bible class teachers spend more time preparing their lessons. The whole place seems to take on a new attitude. Why? Because some refused to follow the blurred print society. Some decided, no matter what, they were going to do what the Bible says. God deserves the best and they were going to give Him their best.
To some degree, all of us have a bit of blurred print within us. It’s helpful when we recognize this and admit that we are a work in progress. It helps to point folks to the Lord and His word and not to us. We need to be examples. We need to let our lights shine, but ultimately, we must point folks to the Lord.
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred? Even still, people can find the Lord, obey Him and through His grace, have the hope of Heaven.