Thursday, February 09, 2012
Today’s Topic: Be the One
Today’s Text: Isaiah 59:16a (NIV) He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
The elevator door began to open, and as it did I took my first step to enter. I stopped before taking the second step when I saw how crowded it was in that little box. Yet the people inside motioned me to come forward as they started to squeeze more tightly than before to make room. As I entered, I realized it would not be easy to turn around, so I stood facing all of them as my back was brushed by the closing door.
Have you ever stood facing the people in an elevator? It’s uncomfortable. There are two reasons for the awkwardness. First, there’s the realization that everyone in there is staring at you. They are evaluating you. They are wondering if you will say something, and if you do, will you have bad breath or will you spit as you speak. Our insecurities explode to the surface in such situations, and we imagine all kinds of things that the other people must be thinking.
Second, there’s the reality that you are facing the wrong direction and blocking their exit. You stand opposed to the majority, and that’s uncomfortable in any situation.
How much power do you have in that box to change people’s minds about where they want to go? Absolutely none if all you consider is the exit door. But you do have the power to change their mind about when they will use that door. They may have gotten on the elevator to go to a particular floor, but it is possible for you to convince them to change that plan. It may not be probable or practical, but it is possible. You have more power than you think to affect the direction of other people’s lives.
We need to remember that when by our faith in Jesus Christ we stand opposed to the direction the world is taking. The Bible is full of stories about the power of one. I think we as Christians have started to believe the lie of our Enemy that the current of culture is too powerful to resist. Every day we get on the proverbial elevator of life and turn to face the same direction as everyone already there. We avoid contact with others and leave them to their own choices, focusing only on the numbers above the door as they announce the arrival of our destination. We know very little about anyone else around us, and don’t seem to care why they are going where they are going. We miss countless opportunities to invite them to make a different choice.
That is the picture presented to us in Isaiah 59, verses 2-15. It would benefit you to read them and see how appropriately they describe our current culture.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things. 4 No one calls for justice; no one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments and speak lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. 5 They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. 6 Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. 7 Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.
8 The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks in them will know peace. 9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.
10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. 11 We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. 12 For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the LORD, turning our backs on our God, fomenting oppression and revolt, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
It is into this elevator of injustice and sin that God wants us to step and face the other way. He did it. Jesus came and lived His life facing the opposite direction from everyone around Him. And while He went against the flow, He invited others to consider changing their direction.
That’s exactly how we are supposed to live – and ride elevators.