Monday, 18 April 2011

Walking the Talk

It's easy to sit back in our comfortable chairs and spout platitudes about how to live as a Christian. Platitudes are easy. They are pure theory, like the scientist who sits looking at pieces of paper and uses mathematics to explain how a star can exist, or more accurately a business man called in to "streamline" a company talking about how many jobs must be cut, then returning to his million dollar job in his million dollar car.

Reality is harder.

In World War One the soldiers doing the fighting sat up to their knees in filth, mud, water and rats. Many lives were lost because of the conditions the men were forced to live in. Even today, you can visit places and see sanitised versions of the trenches. I saw the reconstructions as a teenager at Vimy Ridge. I saw the massive memorial at Thiepval to over 70 000 men whose bodies were never recovered on the Somme battlefields.

But the Generals who sent these men to their deaths sat growing fat at HQ, eating steak and attending dances whilst their men were close to starving and waiting for death to call.

As Christians we can fall into the trap of believing we're Generals.

We sit and spout theory about why things are the way they are. God being God allows certain things to happen to teach us. He has His "master-plan" and we can't understand it.

We're living in a world where we are at war but we think we're at HQ. Then the shells start falling around us. Cancer, unemployment, death of loved ones strike at us and we are reminded that we are not safe behind the lines, but rather we are stuck in the middle of the front line, and the enemy soldiers are well trained and relentless.

Suddenly we have to start to walk the talk. And we usually fail.

Peter was so filled with the Holy Spirit that people placed the sick in the street so his shadow could touch them. When it came time for them to look for someone to wait on the tables they sought out those anointed men to do it - Primarily Stephen, the first martyr.

They talked the talk, yes. But they walked what they talked. Peter laid hands on the sick, He raised the dead. He had freely received - not in theory, but in reality - and he now freely gave. He taught others what he knew, sometimes he even used words to do it.

We are quick to talk, but walking it is another matter. It's hard to stay strong when it looks like your life is falling apart. Death and sickness haunt your every step. Loved ones die and are diagnosed with terrible illness. Fear is a natural response. Grief hammers on the door of our heart and we open it up and weep.

It's normal. It's part of healing. It opens the door to what comes next...

hang on...



"Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.  Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!'" (John 11:33-36)

Jesus wept because He loved Lazarus and He loved Martha. He felt the grief tey felt. He felt the loss. He wept.

Then He acted.

Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?' Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.[c] And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.' Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go.'" (John 11:38-44)

First Jesus felt the grief, then He acted. And Lazarus came out of the grave.

Jesus walked the talk. Peter and Paul and Timothy and all the apostles walked the talk. They saw miracles. Jail cells opened, blind eyes seeing, lame walking, deaf hearing.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 1999 I tried to believe for a miracle. I wanted him to live and recover. He didn't. I didn't understand at that point. I said all the right things, even outwardly did all of them, but my heart saw him die when the doctors made the diagnosis. As a result I prepared for his death in my heart, and not for his health being restored.

I talked the talk, but I didn't walk it. I know that now, and although I'm saddened I don't feel guilt or shame about it. It's been taken care of by giving it over to Christ, something we all must do.

Walking the talk is hard. It means taking hits, often from people we are very close to.

It means having to watch sometimes and wait for the moment to call our Lazarus out.

We weep. We bleed. We feel the despair and the heartache this world holds.

We drown it out most of the time. Numb ourselves to the cry of our hearts by watching TV or drinking, or partying. Sex, drugs and rock and roll. But then we go to sleep alone, and in the darkness He calls to us, and our thoughts return to where we should be.

So we get up and we talk the fight. Once in a while we even fight the fight.

Then a new attack comes and we crumple.

Unless we consistently walk out our faith. We can build ourselves up through fellowship to a point where when the storm comes we can weather it. The wave breaks on the Rock on which we stand, rather than swamping us

Talk the talk, yes. But we must walk out what we believe, whatever the cost personally if we are to stand.

Walk the talk. "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22)

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