The crowd stood on the dock watching the three ships sail west. Some shook their heads, some shed tears, few if any thought they would ever see their loved ones again. Everyone in the world KNEW. It wasn't that they THOUGHT they knew, they KNEW. Scholars knew, scientists knew, theologians knew, paupers on the street knew, even little children knew. It was the truth, undebateable, undeniable, any other thought unfathomable, which is why all thought they were saying good-bye for the last time.
Thus the shock when the three ships appeared on the horizon many months later. Christopher Columbus stepped off the ship signaling that the universe had changed. What was the undeniable fact? The world is flat. Everybody knew that. The maps detailed it, religious leaders defended it, nothing else was ever considered. Yet they had not sailed off of the edge of the world.
The entire known world had been wrong and had to REORIENT themselves to the TRUTH that the world was round and Chris Columbus was a genius rather than a madman.
As I look at the Christianity we know in western civilization and contrast it with what I see in the accounts of Jesus by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as well as the early church in the book of Acts, it appears much the same. Is it possible we have been so inculturated by the American version of Christianity that we think we know, but are missing the truth?
Here are Jesus' words:
John 14:12 (NIV) "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."
If Jesus meant what He said, and He did, is it possible we are missing it just as badly as those who thought the world was flat! Is it possible that the Christianity that we've gotten used to is not what Jesus had in mind? That it is too passive, too powerless, too safe, too meaningless, too boring, too lifeless?
Is it possible what Jesus brought is MIRACULOUS LIVING? That is God engaged in our lives in supernatural ways? Ways beyond the normal "miracles" of birth and love, etc.? The miraculous living of seeing the extraordinary become the ordinary as if we are in a different dimension?
I think so. C.S. Lewis had it right when he wrote,
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (The Weight of Glory and other addresses, C.S. Lewis.)
Can you imagine how dizzying it was? How the minds of the scientists, mapmakers, rulers of the world were reeling when Chris Columbus pulled his boat to the curb and unloaded his groceries from North America? But the journey into the danger and discomfort and unknown was worth it, changing the world and the destinies of millions of people.
It is the same with us. It will be dizzying for us to take a hard look at what we have long assumed to be true, leave our comfort, risk our reputations, venture into the unknown to live into the Kingdom of God Jesus offers. But the journey will be worth it as Jesus changes our worlds and the eternal destinies of many.
Will you take the journey with me?
(To listen to Herb via the internet go to http://www.newsongpittsburgh.org/sermons.htm )