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Faith On Mission 2015

I have learned to read a book with much more skill than before. I used to begin by flipping it over to see who “endorsed” the work, then taking time for the “Forward” before moving to the “Introduction” as the prelude to dipping into the first chapter. I would read thoughtfully, snagging and seeking to retain the details as the narrative unfolded. I would let the “tension” build as the author skillfully drew me into the drama. Then, finally, the moment of the reveal, the crisis climax, the “aha” moment surprising my predicted conclusion!

But I’m smarter now, I think. I may still do the “who recommends this book” and even skim over the “Forward” section. But from there it is straight to the closing chapter! And IF it resolves itself as I desire it to do, THEN I’ll take time to get lost in the journey.

However, I didn’t do that the first time I read the converted IRS Agent’s personal memoirs of his Jesus experience. Instead, I read the account of the genealogy research, loved the holiday image of the rich guys with bathrobes riding into the scene on decorated single-hump mounts. I created mental images of the rough and tumble misfit preacher calling out the biblical know-it-alls. I sat fascinated at the back and forth with the devil and the skillful retorts and use of scripture to blunt each targeted blow. I was fixated on the “Manifesto” for three chapters before following the narrative through jaw dropping miracles, critic silencing expositions, and the rising temperature of the intensifying conflict.

Then the story rises to what seems to be its pinnacle as they arrest Him, beat Him, and finally kill Him. You have to admit that if you had never before heard His story, you find yourself sitting in absolute shock at where this finely woven narrative found its resolution. They killed their King?! You have got to be kidding! But then, the grave is open—and its EMPTY! In fact, LOTS of graves were found to be open and empty. The murdered King is very much alive and doing very well, thank you. So my unsanctified flesh prepares itself for a legendary act of retaliation and restoration of justice. I mean, if I were writing this story, that empty tomb and resurrected King would be the place that I would close the story!

What a surprising ending! It’s not the rejection by His people or the injustice of His treatment at their hands. Its not even the glorious defeat of the enemy of the grave that closes these “memoirs.” Instead it’s a commission to a universal impact task! “Go into ALL the world…make disciples of ALL nations…teach them to observe ALL that I commanded you…” Matthew 28:18-20

Wow! I know for sure that if you started your reading by going first to the closing chapter, you would, FOR SURE, want to read the rest of the story. So now that you know, go tell somebody!

See you Sunday, Church!
Pastor Tom