Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 NRS)
When my wife and I lived in Iowa, after the chill of winter, we truly looked forward to that first day warm enough to finally get out the deck furniture and enjoy living more in the outdoors. Our dog loved that back deck, especially when we would sit out there with her. What amazed me was one day just after the warmth started, my dog and I were not the only ones enjoying it. Along the top of the deck rails were hundreds (I am not making this up) of flies. They too wanted time in the sun. At first we could share the deck; then over a short period of time the flies decided to literally bug me. The only thing worse than a pesky fly is a pesky mosquito; and the only thing worse than a pesky mosquito is a hungry saber-tooth tiger, but fortunately all I had to deal with that day were some pesky flies.
Since they would not leave me alone I decided to go on the offensive. I started to view them with a certain amount of disdain. I quickly went back inside and armed myself with my trusty single barrel twisted-wire fly swatter. This one is special as it is an imported German model from a local hardware store up there. (Well, that is what the salesman told me.) Now, brandishing my weapon of choice, I went back out to put fear in the hearts of those flies. I know that some people may be troubled or aghast that I would so quickly dispatch the innocent lives of so many flies. But were they really so innocent? As I said, they started it by bugging me. And I also would like to point out that if NATO can declare a no-fly zone, why couldn't I?--the result was that although they were fast, I was faster. And you could say that they dropped like, well, flies. Yet when it was over and the smoke from the speed of my German fly-swatter had cleared, I doubt that I had even put a dent in the population of flies in or around the town. But I tried.
Sometimes I wonder if many in the world today view Christians with a similar disdain as those flies. I think that we do bug people. Not because we are pesky about our faith, but because we have faith in Jesus Christ. I am convinced that if given the opportunity many in the world would come after us, fly-swatter in hand, hoping, that we would cower in fear and disappear. It is often not so much our actions that bother believers of other faiths and those having no faith at all, it is our swearing allegiance to Jesus. We remind them that he is the one who said he is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through him. It goes against the culture of the world today to declare that not all paths lead to heaven.
I never look at my Christianity with smugness, as if I have it and others don't. I always look at the unbelief of others as being sad and I pray that they too see the light before it is too late. Perhaps we can help them. And perhaps we can learn something about helping them from those flies:
1. First is that we take every opportunity to Son ourselves.--Following means that we need to keep our eyes on the one we follow. It won't hurt either while we have our eyes open to also open our ears and listen to Him, to be grounded in His Word.
2. Second is that we are not in this alone. -We have and depend on each other. And together we are able to accomplish a lot as long as we make ourselves available. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian, which is why scripture refers to us as not just the arm or the leg or the foot, but as the body of Christ.
3. Third is that when the time is right, as often happens day to day, we should not be afraid to appear. -It is most often not what we say but what we do that either draws people into the church or pushes them away. We need to be unafraid to appear as often as we can and through our actions tell the world the right message about Christ.
Consider then that although many in the world today would rather not be bugged by us, they may not have considered how much better that is than being bothered by that ever pesky hungry saber-tooth tiger named the Great Deceiver. That way leads to too many very warm days. We at least can point them to a path that leads the way to truth and life. A path that I thank God we are on together.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. (Proverbs 4:18 NRS)
Sunday morning worship services at Runge's St. Paul Lutheran Church begin at 8:30 a.m. Come and worship.