Captain James T. Kirk commanded the Starship Enterprise for many years, and in this role, visited planets all over the universe.
When he was ready to return to the command ship, he called Lt. Comm. Montgomery Scott and said, “Beam me up, Scotty.” The transporter did its work.
I was thinking lately how easy the Christian life would be if we were transported to heaven immediately upon conversion; a kind of “Beam me up, Jesus” moment. Living in heaven is easier than living on Earth; presumably the only thing we’ll do in heaven is go to choir practice since we’ll sing for 1,000 years, I’m told. But living on Earth is another story. It’s hard to live a holy life in our world. But, alas, that is our calling. We’re not taken to heaven when we’re saved. We’re left to serve in the name of Christ.
Our church’s recent study in the Epistle of James has underscored this truth. James wrote, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 2:22). The acid test of Christianity is the rigors of everyday living.
James emphasized this doctrine with an unlikely pairing: Abraham, the patriarch and Rahab, the prostitute. This combination is unique; something like Elvis’s famous peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or the CD best-seller a few years ago featuring duets by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. But both individuals he cited demonstrate the grace of God and the nature of saving faith.
Abraham obeyed the voice of God to go to a new land. There the Lord announced he and his aged wife would have a son—a “child of promise”—who would ensure Abraham have as many descendants as the night stars. Abraham believed God and was made righteous. But later he obeyed the command of God to offer this child as a sacrifice. His obedience was a direct result of trusting in God and a validation of faith.
Rahab lived in Jericho, but believed the hand of God was with the returning Hebrews. She fearlessly hid the alien spies on her rooftop, thus demonstrating her commitment to a new God. Rahab gave her life to another spiritual family and became the great-great grandmother of Israel’s greatest king, David.
The late Dr. Robert Schuller suggested one reason he lobbied for a glass church was so that parishioners would remember as they gazed outward that the world is the object of our service. We do serve God inside the walls of the church through teaching, giving, and worship, but saving faith impels us into a world of need to represent Christ.
Indeed, obedient service is a mirror reflecting a heart changed by the Spirit of God.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.