Vol: 57 Issue: 23 Friday, June 23, 2006
One of the lighter moments at the Branson gathering was when my wife Gayle turned to Frank and Connie Spaniak’s daughter and said, “I’m having such a good time! I was afraid they’d be a bunch of holy rollers, didn’t you?”
The look on Sandy’s face was priceless, since she no doubt expected Gayle and I to be the holiest rollers at the party.
Before I go on, lest I’ve offended anybody, I am not exactly sure what a ‘holy roller’ is — it’s just a phrase that rolls easily off the tongue.
My own definition would be somebody so heavenly-minded they are no earthly good, so fearful of loving the things of this world that they aren’t able to enjoy them, or someone so caught up in the things of the Spirit that any spirit will do, as long as its a spiritual experience.
It’s kinda vague, I know. But its not us. We enjoy the life God has given us.
We understand that it is no longer exclusively ours, but all work and no play is not God’s recipe for leading a Spirit-filled life. The Branson meeting was a ton of fun, and I didn’t feel guilty about it for a second.
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the Hand of God.”
“And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”
“Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion.” (Ecclesiates 2:24, 3:13, 5:18)
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (1st Timothy 6:17)
Paul doesn’t say being rich is evil, but rather that trusting in riches is evil. He says trust in the living God, Who richly gives us ALL THINGS TO ENJOY.
Even combat Marines get relieved. A combat Marine is a deadly serious killing machine, totally dedicated to his mission. But that doesn’t stop him from having fun where he can.
There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching the young Marines fresh from Iraq, ‘unwinding’ on the beach at my adopted home in Atlantic Beach, NC.
They are still combat Marines, ready, willing and able to do their duty when called. Being a Marine means training, more training, and training some more. It means being prepared to fight or die in the service of the country.
You can spot a Marine by his demeanor, his posture, his cockiness and his haircut. You don’t need to see him kill somebody to know he is a Marine.
But Marines go bowling, go fishing, watch movies, take their families on picnics, without leaving the nation’s service while they do so. They play hard and they enjoy the life God has given them, knowing they may be called on at any time to give it back to Him.
If ever there were a model for loving life without loving it too much, it was Jesus. He knew what He was to face on our behalf. He loved life, but He loved God more. When His time approached, He prayed;
“And He said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from Me: nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt.”
Jesus laughed. He enjoyed company. He loved to answer questions. He went to parties. He lamented of His moribund generation;
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. [But] whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.”
“For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a Man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. . . .” (Matthew 11:15-19)
Jesus enjoyed His life, He didn’t shrink from enjoyment out of fear He would enjoy it too much. Instead, He promised us;
“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
I’ve never been one to take myself too seriously. I am just the donkey upon which the Message is riding. My job is to heed my Rider and take the Message where I am directed to carry it. It is not MY message.
The rider doesn’t belong to the donkey — it’s the other way around. When the Lone Ranger rode up to save the day, nobody shouted, “Hey, there’s Silver!”
Nobody expected to see Silver outdraw the bad guy. That was the Lone Ranger’s job. Silver’s job was to get him there.
Being a good Christian is not as hard as some folks make it out to be. The world has its image of what a ‘good’ Christian is.
But they think it is Silver, and not the Lone Ranger, that is supposed to whip the bad guys. And when Silver turns out to be a horse, they blame the Lone Ranger. Some Christians do the same thing.
If you’ll permit me one more analogy, consider the spiritual battlefield upon which we do combat with the enemy.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Our battle is not with flesh and blood — Jesus has already won that battle for us. It is a spiritual battle against the powers of darkness and against “spiritual wickedness in high places”.
The epitome of spiritual wickedness is to reject the offer of pardon Jesus purchased with His Blood on our behalf. It means choosing the darkness and rejecting the light for eternity.
It is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness, since we are called to Christ by the Holy Spirit. To reject that call is spiritual blasphemy.
“But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” (Mark 3:29)
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist . . .” (1st John 4:3)
We tend to judge ourselves as if we were the Lone Ranger instead of Silver. It isn’t up to us to decide where we will carry our Rider. It is up us to be sensitive to His Touch and to go where He leads. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
How can that be if every waking moment of our life since meeting Him is one of agonizing self-reflection, despair at our own inadequacies, and fear we aren’t up to the tasks before us? Such a yoke seems exceedingly difficult, and such a burden seems too heavy to bear.
Our battle is against sin. Sin is sin, whether it is our own, or the sin that blinds sinners to the call of the Savior. The battle is not bloodless — some of us, from time to time, can fall wounded on the field.
When a Christian is wounded in battle, as often as not, his fellow Christians will note his fall, and instead of treating his wounds, will just bayonet him as a ‘lost cause’.
But sin is not fun. It is painful — particularly for a Christian. Neither is having fun a sin. Putting fun ahead of duty is sin.
James writes, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
Therefore, being a Christian doesn’t mean the end of fun. Who wants to hang out with a bunch of holy rollers with long faces too preoccupied with heaven to be any fun on earth?
That is not to say that one bears no responsibility for living a right life. When the Lone Ranger disguised himself as the old prospector, he had to leave Silver behind.
If Silver was around, people knew the Lone Ranger was close by. We should be as clearly identifiable with our Rider as Silver was with the Lone Ranger.
That is our responsibility and our goal. But that still doesn’t make US the Lone Ranger.
Just the horse He rode in on.