I can make a silk turn from green to red and I can restore a paper heart shredded to pieces. But they are all gimmicks, tricks that look stunning at the start. But I could teach them to you in moments and you could shortly do them, too. Practice is short and sweet.
I know an illusionist who spends hours every day spinning cards. He can snap a card the length of a football field and hide it in mind-boggling places.
He could show me in a moment his secret but it would take years of hard work to duplicate what he does. Practice is tedious and sweaty.
Lately, I’ve had a few encounters with atheists who, although polite, think of God as a hobby. One explained, “I don’t collect coins so why would I go to a coin collector’s meeting? They might be nice people, and really interested in what they’re doing, but it’s just not my thing. That’s how it is with God. I am just not into God.”
I’m still contemplating my response. I want to rush to the attention-grabbers of our church culture. We’ll hold a barbecue and you can come to see how nice we are. We’ll have a daycare for your kids in the park and you can come to see how nice we are. We’ll bring in games and food for the whole block so you can see how nice we are. It’s short and sweet.
That works sometimes, like my silk tricks. Other times, not so much.
Do I know God like the illusionist knows his cards? Do I walk in Jesus’ steps like the illusionist manipulates his cards, with fervor?
Jesus walked among the skeptics and the lowly and the unclean out of love and mercy. He heard their words and he knew their needs. It was tedious and sweaty.
When someone reduces God to a hobby, he has missed the very essence of God’s nature.
We have work to do. We aren’t doing well communicating God’s character – maybe because it’s easier to show the world how nice we are than to do the years of sweaty work. I think people were changed by Jesus’ passion and I think they’ll be changed when we, too, are zealous. Not zealous for niceness but for sacrifice and love. Gimmicks work sometimes but I need passion for our Savior to learn his nature.
Like that illusionist knows his cards.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.