Pastor’s Devotions #124

“A Sleeping Giant”

“For whoever is not against us is for us.” Mark 9:40

 

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter nine, the disciple, John, tells Jesus, “We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Jesus replied, “Do not stop him.” He went on to say, “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”

John was upset that a man was doing mighty miracles, IN JESUS’ NAME, because he was not in Jesus’ inner circle. Jesus quickly pointed out to John that anyone speaking the name of Jesus is on his same team.

After 11:13 a.m. this morning, thoughts were bouncing around in my head. All of a sudden, my phone binged with a special news report. The report said that reddit retail investors have now increased the stock value of AMC theatres over 3,000 percent for the year. A similar move has been reported over the past months with GameStop stock as well as certain cannabis stocks. Retail investors have been making Wall Street uneasy with their united efforts in increasing certain stock values.

When people unite around a common cause, there is power to effect change. We have seen this played out concerning a number of different societal issues. Who would have believed 50 years ago, that today, everyone stepping into an automobile would buckle up with a seat belt – and not give it a second thought? Who could have envisioned the right to smoke in public places virtually prohibited? Who could have conceived two years ago, that an entire nation would mask up and completely change the way they lived?

These changes occurred because enough people believed a change was necessary. They united behind a common cause that they believed would provide protection, safety, and save lives.

Do you know how many Christians there are in the United States? Google says 205 million. There are 205 million Protestant and Catholic Christians in this country. Yet, it seems like the church is virtually a growing non-player in its societal presence – and I’m not speaking politically. (The problem today is that the church is often only seen, and/or heard in political terms.) But, in all truth – the church of Jesus Christ (and I’m not talking about the Mormon church) is a sleeping giant. Hearing that term might take you back to WW2 – and Japan’s General Yamamoto’s reference to the United States as a “sleeping giant”. He was correct. When the U.S. entered WW2 – no other nation in the world had the power and potential to change the direction of the war.

205 million people stand united under the banner of Jesus Christ. Yet, respectfully, very little power is unleashed. Is it because we are all looking at one another and declaring that each – denomination and congregation – “They are not one of us”? We watch the nightly news, as more and more violence erupts in our communities and across our nation and we are greatly disturbed, yet we feel powerless.

In my musings, I wondered, “What if all 205 million Christians untied under the simple truth of three powerful words. The truth is: Jesus Is Lord! It is perhaps the first and most ancient creed of the Christian church. Romans 10:9 states, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Does our witness and testimony really need to be more than this? What if 205 million believers, ALL Christian churches, untied behind these three fundamental words in common cause? What if we sought to live out Jesus’ lordship in our own lives and shared the love of our Savior with others – all the Christian churches as one? What if we all moved beyond the scrutiny and judgment that each one is not one of us? Rather, we followed Jesus’ words, that if they are not against us, they are for us?

One Christian Church – united in Jesus Christ – is that what our nation is waiting for? Is that what the world is waiting for? Is this what Jesus is waiting for? Jesus prayed as he waited for his crucifixion, “My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

No, we are not removing “Lutheran” from our sign. This is about a heart condition. My heart condition!

So, I pray, “Come, Holy Spirit!”

And I await 11:13 a.m. tomorrow.

Grace and Peace to you all,

Pastor Mark