Summary: The world will invade us with its values. But we are called to be "hot" to pursue such things as compassion and evangelism and "cold" toward such things as hostility and prejudice. We can sustain these values if we are connected to one another and to Go
The Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes, speaks to me. I trust he also speaks to you. In fact, that is the very title of his poem! “To You”
To sit and dream, to sit and read,
To sit and learn about the world
Outside our world of here and now – our problem world –
To dream of vast horizons of the soul
Through dreams made whole,
Unfettered free – help me!
All you who are dreamers, too,
Help me make our world anew
I reach out my hands to you.
“Help me make our world anew”. That’s a big job, isn’t it, to make our problem world, anew? But today I invite you to sit and dream and learn about what we as followers of Christ must do to make our world anew.
Let me offer you this morning a lesson in thermodynamics! Thermodynamics has to do with the physical laws concerning temperature. How do things react to temperature?
One of the laws of thermodynamics says that everything is moving toward the same temperature. That is, if you put several objects that have different temperatures in the same environment, they will all affect each other and will eventually go to the same temperature. So if you take a hot pressure cooker off the stove and plunge it into a sink of cold water, what happens? The pressure cooker cools down and the water heats up, and after only a little while they are both at the same temperature. Then let’s say you want it a little cooler, so you throw some ice cubes into the sink; what happens now? The ice will get warmer and melt, but it will also cool off the warm water, and, again, after a little while, the temperature of everything in that bath is the same. Thermodynamics in a nutshell.
That’s all very well if you don’t care that the pan is cooled and the ice is warmed to the point of melting. That’s all just fine if you don’t want that pan to be hot or that ice to be cold. But if you want to eat hot food or drink cold water, you have just created a problem!
Let’s try something. Let’s try the taste test. In front of you you see four cups. Two of the cups contain coffee, which is supposed to be hot, right? And two of the cups contain soda, which is supposed to be cold, isn’t it? I need taste testers right now. I need two people to taste the coffee; and I need two people to taste the soda. As you come, I would point out that there is also on this table an empty basin. I won’t tell you what to do with the basin; but you just may want to do what comes naturally!
[One tastes hot coffee, another lukewarm coffee; one tastes cold soda, another tepid soda]
What just happened here? One of the coffee cups was brewed and put out here at the beginning of the service; because it is in such a large room, it cooled off to room temperature. In a similar way, one of the cups of soda was iced down as we started worship; but, again, because of the size of this space, it warmed up to room temperature and became flat and tasteless.
So two of us this morning have experienced in a very direct way what the Scripture says about the church at Laodicea:
“You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
You all were too polite actually to spit the stuff out, but you wanted to, didn’t you?
The law of thermodynamics says that things at different temperatures will exchange heat with one another and eventually everything will all be the same temperature. A little vessel in a big room will not affect the room very much, but the room will affect it greatly. The spiritual law of thermodynamics says that people at different spiritual temperatures, living in a big problem world, may not, on their own have much effect on that world. You may not be able to detect that they have made a difference. But watch out! Because that big world, that problem world, will affect them. It will bring them to its own spiritual temperature. The world that we are supposed to be changing is changing us, and we need to know that. But we need to be aware that the Lord can help us do something about that.
I would remind you that while two of these cups were lukewarm and ready to spit out, two of them had energy in them. One of them was nice and hot; the other was cool and refreshing. They had energy. And we too can have spiritual energy, so that we can be more than tepid coffee and lukewarm soda in a great big room. We can have spiritual energy, even in this problem world. We can help make our world anew.