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Summary: Sometimes we get so focused on just one aspect of Christianity that we fail to see the big picture: we miss the rest of the story.

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AN OLD SOLDIER’S

PERSPECTIVE OF A BALLANCED CHURCH

ILLUSTRATION

In the summer time my wife and I love to feed hummingbirds. Our front porch faces west, which makes it an excellent place for flowers and for birds. Each year we put out 3 or 4 hummingbird feeders so that we can sit on the porch and watch the birds. This past year we had one hummingbird that spent all of his time chasing the other birds away from the feeders. My wife got angry with the little bully, but I felt sorry for him. He was so paranoid that he spent all his time in a futile effort to guard that, which could not be guarded. I never saw the little fellow eat. All he did was sit on a nail and then fly down to chase other birds away from the feeders. He would fly back up to his perch and in just a moment fly after another bird.

I sometimes think that a Christians congregation can become a little bit like that hummingbird. It seems like we are either focused on our daily struggles or we are totally enraptured by God’s blessings. In either case, we loose sight of the deity of Christ and ignore our mission as ambassadors. When this happens, we can get so focused on the spiritual battlefield that we missed the joy of God, or we can spend so much time chasing prosperity-gospel illusions that we fall prey to Satan’s deceptions. Or, God forbid, we think someone has given us a ticket to heaven so we sit down and wait for the train. This is not to say that any of these activities is totally wrong. What is wrong is to devote all of your time and energy to just one ancillary facet of Christianity: we can be guilty of straining gnats and swallowing camels. We need to balance battlefield concerns with the joys found in being a faithful Christian so that our service to Christ is not encumbered with ancillary things.

SERMON

There was an alarm going off: a soft gentle alarm that roused the old man to consciousness. Dang-it he had fallen asleep in church again, and his young grandson was using a wristwatch’s alarm to wake him up. As the old man gathered his wits about him he wished the evangelist’s sermons were not as dry as dust. He thought: ‘It is the same health, wealth and happiness sales pitch he had heard a hundred times before.’ The old man already knew how the evangelist’s sermon would end. In his mind, the old man could hear the evangelist preach: “If you become a partner in this ministry God will bless you with your hearts desires and for every dollar you give to this ministry God will give you ten in return.” The old man shook his head in disgust, thinking: ‘it is not that the evangelist is lying; it is just that he is drowning the congregation in milk!’

The old man, out of Christian dedication to his church, tried to focus on the sermon; but soon his mind was wandering through memories of his past. Before long he zeroed in on a time when, as a young soldier, he was brought awake by alarms sounding far off in the distance. As sounds in the church faded into the background, the old man settled into his new daydream where he could once again hear the alarm sounding in his ear. He remembered how hard it was to wake up. But, as sleep gave way to the unrelenting sound of the alarm, he realized that the sound, the alarm sound, was coming from a Government Issued wristwatch. The GI watch, whose sound was muffled from the rest of the world by a folded up towel, was held to his head by a green triangular swath of cloth. The towel, which most wore slung over the back of their neck, was used to wipe sweat out of eyes; when folded up it became a pillow; and in the highlands it staved off the chill of the night. The sweat and soil stained triangular cloth had originally been taken out of a first aid pouch. Now fully awake, the soldier slowly reached his left hand under the folded up towel and shut off the watch.


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