“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…”1 Peter 3:15
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killedG.K. Chesterton
Slain any dragons lately? One of my biggest dragons is feeling helpless when it comes to helping people to see Jesus clearly. What is pictured in my mind about who Jesus is and what comes out of my mouth sometime seems miles apart. I want people to know that He is both God and man, perfect and Holy, transcendent and personal. Yet, when given the opportunity to speak of His person I trip over my words like a teen age boy asking a girl out on a date for the first time. I will sum it up in one word—Awkward.
Sharing the hope that is in us is difficult under optimal conditions. But it becomes almost impossible when the people around you are running scared and angry. It has been my recent observation that people using the bike/walking/jogging trail in my neighborhood, for the most part seem distracted, distant, fearful, and most alarming, angry. Perhaps I am exaggerating, maybe it’s just my oversensitivity that they are all these things. Maybe the looks I get when I give my morning greeting with a big toothy smile is just too obnoxious, too intrusive, after all, not all people are morning people. Perhaps at 7:00 in the morning is not a good time to smile, dare I say grin?
But what if for argument’s sake, people are really running scared and angry because they don’t see hope on the horizon? Hopelessness comes in many forms in our society. Police feel hopeless when society stops respecting their authority, when the laws that govern their actions are thrown aside and politicians support the anarchist over and above the law bidding citizen. People of color feel hopeless when years of racial bigotry are fueled by prejudice, hate, and discrimination. And what about all those who have lost their employment due to Covid-19? Some families are really struggling to get by. According to latest unemployment stats, New York State’s unemployment rate is at 14.5% in May 2020. Will that percentage drop? Perhaps, but no one knowns for sure, leaving the family income unstable at best. Then there is the whole educational process from kindergarten through college. At best parents and college age students are cautiously optimistic as they look forward to a new school year. But we all know that could change overnight.
Like a thermometer, when people lives change for the worse, when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, when bad stuff just won’t go away, their hope plunges like the temperature drop coming from an Arctic blast. And when people lose hope in the things they believe should give them hope, they stop being patient and start acting out their true nature.
Now, I want to make sure you don’t misunderstand me. All the things I have mention; respect for law enforcement, civil obedience, human decency for all, regardless of their skin pigmentation, employment for all who are willing and able to work, and meeting basic educational needs, are important and necessary for our society to function well. But let me be clear, they are not the all in all for giving us hope for a better day because at best they will always have their inborn limitations.
EXAMPLE: Let me use racial prejudice as an example. How is it possible that someone could hate another human being solely based upon the color of their skin? The human body is made up of so many different parts yet there are those whose sole purpose in life is to hate someone just because of that person’s outer shell. Skin pigmentation of all humans only makes up 2% of their physical being. To me, it makes no sense, yet there are those whose life ambition is to hate all those who are different in color than themselves.
Like racial bigotry, all the other things I have mentioned are not going away. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t believe human nature is at its core good. Certainly, the Bible does not give us that impression. Our sin nature manifest itself through countless ways. And when hope is placed in our American entitlement, our desire for more, our desire for even our most basic human rights we will always be disappointed and we will act out our disappointment the more our expectations are not fulfilled.
In a phrase—we lose hope. Hopelessness and despair are true bedfellows. When hopelessness increases, despair is not far behind. When the American dream turns into a nightmare, people will start acting out and start rebelling. After all, what do they have to lose? If I cannot get my way, I am going to make sure you don’t get yours either. And so, the slide of hopelessness begins.
NO FAIRY TALE—Jesus is our Dragon Slayer! G.K. Chesterton was right when he implied that dragons exist. I may not believe that real physical dragons exist, but I do believe they exist metaphorically. The dragons of racial prejudice, hate for those who police our streets, the lack of employment and educations are very real. If you have lived long enough, you realize that not all diseases will go away and if you live a little longer you will probably experience a new one just around the corner. So how do we share hope in a society that seems to becoming more hopeless in every day that passes?
SET THE DRAGON SLAYER ASIDE IN YOUR HEART! I’m not looking for the next human hero to come on the scene. My apprehension comes from the fact that he might be the anti-Christ. The Apostle Peter tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” To sanctify means to “set aside.” It gives me the impression of one making a special place, a special room for a very important guest. How do Christians do this? We do this by making our heart a sanctuary for Jesus to dwell, by placing all our trust and confidence in His ability to fight all the dragons that come up in our life.
Call me a cynic, but I don’t put any hope in human dragon slayers. I don’t believe all politicians have the country’s best interest in mind, I don’t believe public education will stop all ignorance and somehow make everyone a better person, and I certainly don’t believe medical science will come up with every cure for every disease. If I cannot find my hope in my fellow man, if he isn’t my dragon slayer, then who is? So, I am left with only One option. That person, who I have made a special place in my heart is Jesus Thee One and Only Dragon Slayer!
We all have dragons that need to be slayed. The dragons of doubt, hate, fear, ignorance, to mention a few. The question is, is Jesus your Dragon Slayer? Is He the one you have placed all your hope in? Peter said, “be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” Can you give the person who has run out of hope in the society they live in, why you put all your hope in the Dragon Slayer Jesus? If you can’t, I guess the next question is, Why?
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN wishing you Joy in Jesus!