Monday, December 24, 2007

"if" is always in the middle of "life"

That little nugget came from yesterday's sermon by pastor Kevin Cosby at St. Stephen Church.

He started off with excerpts from It's a Wonderful Life, illustrating the potential impact of one man's time on earth. He added historical examples: for instance, what would have happened if Lee won at Gettysburg? Then he told the (apocryphal?) story-- and related the famous rhyme-- about the French losing a battle to the English because...

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost;
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost;
For want of the horse, the rider was lost;
For want of the rider, the battle was lost;
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost;
And all for the want of a
horseshoe nail.

Then, Rev. Cosby focused on what would have happened if Christ had never been born. Much has been said and written about this topic-- and more broadly, the impact of the Church for ill and much moreso for good. But it was good to be reminded again about the glorious impact of Christ in arenas as varied as art and the printing press.

Rev. Cosby focused on the historical-- and that's fine. If I had been preaching, I would have made at least passing reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the vastly underestimated (and under-utilized) ability for Christians to live the Spirit-filled life. Pointing to the Spirit's coming, Christ said that it was better for His disciples that He would "leave" the Earth (allowing the Spirit to come).

One follow-up thought: Often, we can't tell which of our decisions are trivial and which are profound in their impacts. Many people want to "know God's will" for parts of their life. Typically, these are bigger decisions where "the right choice" is difficult to discern-- whom should I marry, where should I work, and so on. In teaching on this topic, I often note that such decisions seem large to us-- but in God's economy, they may be equivalent to the difference between choosing chicken or tuna for a sandwich. Cosby's point prospectively turns this on its ear: ironically, my choice of sandwich meat could have a larger impact than my decision on where to work! In any case, the punchline is the same-- regardless of the short-term, long-term and eternal impact of any given decision, my duty is to make the best decision I can for the glory of God and in service to man.


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