Admiration Applauds—Inspiration Ignites
Have you noticed how some words that formerly communicated certain concepts now mean something different than their original definition? Nearly 150 years ago, E.G. Finney’s work on revival included the word ‘religion’ repeatedly—and, in his time and culture, religion was synonymous with the word: Christianity. Now, ‘religion’ may refer to all sorts of god/faith constructs, not just Christian faith. Another example of change in definition is the word ‘condescend’. This once described one of high rank acting graciously towards one of lower rank (Come Christians, Join to Sing circa 1843: “He is our Guide and Friend; To us He’ll condescend; His love shall never end. Alleluia! Amen!"). Now, to be condescending is a negative term meaning: to be looked down upon. ‘Sick’ is often defined as an ailment; more contemporary usage of the word is synonymous with a past generation’s ‘bad’ or ‘cool’ or ‘groovy’, which really means ‘amazing’.
Ah, tolerance! Once: “I understand your position, and I still respect you; I will graciously believe that something else is true and still may try to persuade you.” Redefined, our culture now says: “all truth is equal.” However, in reality: “You must accept my truth and affirm it as true even if you don’t believe it to be true. But, don't expect me to accept your narrower truth in return.” In fact, now, if you don’t affirm their truth or say that something is the only truth, you‘re judgmental and intolerant.
People who know my story will often come to me and say something like this: “I'm so inspired by your story, by the choices you’ve made, by the way you grown in adversity, by the way you live your life, and by the way that God has chosen to use it for His glory.” Many will go on to tell me about what it has led them to do. Others stop just a sentence back…..so, then I ask: “What has it inspired you to do or be or become?” There is a strange silence…………. an awkward pause………….sometimes a desperate change in subject. Light dawns for me and I respond: “Oh, you admire me; you think that what I'm doing is cool.” “Yeah,” the word tumbles out in obvious relief.
Jesus clearly defines what The Word means and what He was about. He’s bold, He's clear, He is non-apologetic and He clearly calls us to become like Him. Religious leaders accused Him of blasphemy. Zealots and politicians tried to redefine Him. His own disciples tried to dissuade Him. John the Baptist in the end questioned Him. The Word remained unchanged; the world did not.
Like Jesus, our stories, and our lives are meant to inspire others. I'm so moved by what Christ did in someone else's life, it causes me to look for similar change, similar action, and similar results in my own life. I can admire Jesus. I can think He did cool things. That is not enough. God's gift moves us to action; He’s already preordained things for us to do.
Today, I am thinking of people who inspire me: some of them I know and some…I have only read their stories. Horatio Spafford , comforted by God in the midst of his own grief as he sailed over this very spot where his entire family had been lost at sea, comforts me with the personal words of his amazing hymn “It is Well with My Soul.” His hymn reminds me to look at the Savior in the midst of the circumstances. Much in the same vein, my view of God has forever been changed by the song: “All in All’ by Dennis Jernigan, whose story closely mirrors my own. Then, there is our own Barbara Clark, who sings with the choir and continues to proclaim the Christ she has never seen to a congregation she can no longer see. She keeps me singing even as my voice is claimed by Parkinson's disease. Sandy Park relates her own powerful story that forever reminds me God is forgiving, redeeming and restoring her life as well as mine, and that I need to share that work of Christ with others. I'm also inspired to trust God more fully like my parents, who could look at their lives and family and chuck their faith aside, become bitter and angry at God. Instead, they have become more gracious, patient, kind, long suffering and sure of God's plan—to the point that even my non-believing siblings say: “I don't believe in this Christianity stuff, but my parents are the best examples of Christians that I know.”
Who has inspired you to be Christ-like and work in His kingdom for His glory? Are you passionately following Him?
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory, glory as from the only Son of the father full of grace and truth. John bore witness about Him and cried out ....."
Admiration applauds, while Inspiration Ignites!