Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Never judge a book by its cover

At the Mission, we scan through the Lansing State Journal to see if there are any articles that will help us as we serve the needs in Michigan's capital area. I must admit a particular weakness for two sections of the paper: the comics and John Schneider's column. I read the comics because, let's face it, during these times a little extra levity is always helpful. I read John Schneider because he talks about things that are happening to average, ordinary people, like me, in the area where I live and work.

In today's article, he talked about a man who was shoveling the snow from his driveway (not an uncommon practice this winter), when a van pulled up beside him and a woman leaned out and offered him a Bible. Being a believer, the man enjoyed the brief discussion and took the Bible willingly.

"There is a reward inside," the woman assured the man before she drove away. And she spoke the truth, literally as well as figuratively, because tucked inside was a crisp $100 bill and a tract.

John managed, the way he always does, to track down the who, why, and wherefore of the unexpected generosity, but the important point was that the gentleman who called John was not the only one who was approached in this creative manner.

Knowing this, I can't help but wonder how many refused the offered Bible from a stranger. Or how many took the Book, out of assumed kindness, and never bothered to look inside.

I couldn't have made up a better metaphor for the work that goes on every day in our chapel, and in chapels and churches throughout our country and the world. A man or woman stands up before a group and offers them the Word. Not his or her word, but the message as written in God's Book. But it is entirely dependent upon the hearers as to whether or not they will take what they've heard and "open it," i.e. apply it to their lives.

There are probably several unhappy people out there, who read today's paper and realized what they almost had. But what joy for those who bothered to look inside. And what better joy for those who look further than the temporary blessing of cold, hard cash, and see the eternal transformation to be found within the pages of the Book.

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