“These things look like there is wisdom behind them. They have forced worship , false humility and harsh treatment of the human body but they don’t help control physical desires at all.” Col 2:23 (Simple English Bible)
Mabel was fasting along with the rest of the congregation. It was a week long preparation for a special service on Sunday. She tried hard but after a few days, she couldn’t stand it any more — she was hungry! So, Mary made a light meal and ate.
When a few members of the church found out, they were horrified. How could Mary even think about eating when this special event had been carefully planned and advertised? One of the church leaders visited her home and said that she couldn’t participate in the service — she’d failed her commitment, she’d failed the congregation, all of whom were trying so hard, and she’d failed the Lord! Mary was distraught and felt so guilty.
The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae about such matters. There were those who made up all kinds of deprivations to prove just how strong their faith was. Yet, Paul wrote that these things were all shadows and not the reality, which is Christ. Our focus and service should be for Jesus, not man made ideas designed to prove faith or commitment.
Jesus is our reality!
“Keep your eyes upon Jesus. He is the beginning and goal of our faith…” Heb 12:2 (Simple English Bible)
The pilots of the passenger plane approached the runway. They needed to find the beacon that would lead them into the airport and were uncertain of their location. It was night so they couldn’t visually check their bearings. The pilot and co-pilot consulted the charts and instructions for this particular airport. All they needed was to locate the beacon and ensure they were at the right height and on the right glide path.
But the plane crashed into a mountain, killing everyone on board. After an extensive investigation and examination of the wreckage, the inspectors found that there was nothing mechanically wrong with the aircraft. It had enough fuel and all the systems were in working order. The final conclusion was astonishing: the pilots had forgotten one essential function. To fly the plane!
In the world in which we live today, it is easy to become distracted by so many diversions. We can become enmeshed in social programs, protests, politics and time-consuming electronic whizz bangs that we forget to focus on the reason for our faith: Jesus! He is the author and finisher of our faith!
He is our hope!
“That’s why we never give up. Even though our physical bodies are wearing out, our spirits are being renewed day after day.” II Cor 4:16 (Simple English Bible)
Lila was over seventy, a feisty woman with a big heart for children. She was widowed very young in life and never remarried. Yet she served Jesus faithfully in whatever capacity she could with kids. She was an assistant teacher in an elementary school. She volunteered in the children’s cancer ward. She taught Sunday School and helped with the church camps. Wherever children were, Granny Lila was there.
When she found out that she had cancer, against doctor’s advice, she kept her busy schedule. She told no one about her affliction and pain. It seemed the weaker her body was becoming, the more she threw herself into the opportunities even harder. Then came the day when she was house bound and could no longer drive or get out. Granny Lila wrote notes, letters, cards to the kids. All by hand. When she died, there wasn’t enough space in the huge church hall to contain everyone. From pre-schoolers to adults who had been her students, they were there to say farewell.
I believe Granny Lila’s body just wore out. She used it so hard and so frequently that it wasn’t designed for the pressure and service her inner spirit demanded of it. She always said that the Holy Spirit gave her the strength to carry on. Granny Lila didn’t have any children herself but had thousands who were hers.
We need Christians who are renewed day after day, don’t we?