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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Spectator - or Participator?

A scholarly bachelor was invited to write a major article on the theme "What is love?"  Like any good author, his research was extensive.  Numerous books were consulted, and many months were spent in the organisation and development of the material thus gathered.  Eventually, hie work was ready for submission to the publisher, and arrangements were made with a typist to prepare the manuscript (this was in the days before authors had their own computers and word processing software!).  Walking into her office for the first time, something unusual, and unexpected, happened.  Eyes met!  Hearts raced!   A strange reaction swept over each of them!  It was love at first sight.  Suddenly, the subject of the author's work was no longer mere theory to him; it became a reality as he discovered its joys for himself.  Through this exciting contact he learned, and understood, more about his topic in a few minutes than he had gleaned through all of his studying.  He was no longer a spectator- he was a participator!

Earlier this evening, I had a telephone conversation with a friend - that lasted almost an hour-and-a-half!  I had thought that last night's conversation with another friend had been long - but he and I didn't quite make it to the full hour!  This evening, my friend was commenting on "academics" who make pronouncements from their "ivory towers", while having no experience of real life as lived by the majority of us.  He might well have added career politicians into the same category!  They are spectators, who have never truly participated.

Reports that I receive would indicate that, in the light of the events that are occurring around us - whether it be the tragic events of Friday, in Paris; or the less dramatic (but more frequent!) in terms of the numbers involved, similar events in Israel, or Lebanon, or other parts of the Middle East, and other places; or the extremes of weather conditions that seem to be occurring with increasing frequency - are leading more and more people to ask serious questions, and to try to find out the answers. 

Many of those answers may be discovered in the written Word of God, the Bible.  However, it is possible to read, and study, and become an "expert" in Biblical Studies, yet never experience the life-giving experience of a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus, the Christ.  It is possible to be a spectator, without being a participator!

Alternatively, one may read those same words, and discover that Jesus really meant it when he said "I have come that they may have life - life in all its fulness."! (John 10:10).  They may enter into a love relationship that is like none other.  They may become members of the very family of Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists.  They may participate in the life of the followers of Jesus.

It isn't always an easy life - just ask those who suffer persecution for their faith, in about fifty countries in today's world - but it's a life that continues even when physical death, by whatever means, has overcome us.  It's a life that is filled with joy - which is not the same as joviality!  It's a life that makes us holy (set apart for God's use).  It's a life that is immensely satisfying, regardless of circumstances.  One of the passages at which we may look at the Fellowship Group that I hope to attend tomorrow evening, is Philippians 4:11-13 : "... I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content.  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.  I can do all things in Him who strengthens me."  Paul had discovered the joy of following Jesus, even when languishing in a Roman prison.  Of course, he was a full participator; not just a spectator! 

What about you (and me!)?

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