preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2
The title of today is a quote from the character Maximus in the film ‘Gladiator’ (go check it out if you haven’t seen it yet). The thing is, what we do in this small amount of time on earth should have an effect on those around us – and we get to choose whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.
As Christians we have a hope and a future secure in the knowledge of what Jesus did for us that we get to spend eternity with Him. Yet, sometimes our focus is so much on the ‘now’ and the ‘me, myself and I’ culture that we get lost in the selfishness of mankind. If we know what Jesus was about, we understand that we put others first like He did.
Yesterday, I made the remark of saying yes to something before really thinking the consequences through. Well, I didn’t learn my lesson. Again, at the end of 2014 I said yes to growing my beard and hair for a whole year (there was a reason – to raise money for Hope for Justice who tackle human slavery). Simple, I thought. Easy. How hard could it be, right? Just let nature take its course and then in a year, boom, I get a haircut. The thing was, the other person who did it with me was bald, so all they had to do was grow a beard. I was coming off the back of over 20 years of having a shaved head. I couldn’t remember what having hair was like. Well, myself, Sarah and my daughters were about to find out…
Throughout this year a number of things happened with me looking like the wild man of Borneo. I had to renew my passport. I got ordained as a minister. I had an interview at HT for associate pastor. All while rocking beautiful locks (I could even get a man bun) and an epic beard. When I look back on that year, and how ridiculous I actually looked, I know that the reason behind it had far reaching consequences than just me looking like a bit of a prat (okay, a really big prat). We raised over £3000 and we know that the money went to help people living a life that is rubbish. People who don’t see a hope and a future. People who think that this life is all that they will ever know – one of pain and suffering. However, with people like Hope for Justice, they get to see a different way. We have no idea who benefitted from the money raised, and we don’t know who was set free from slavery and given a new start. And we certainly don’t know who, because of Hope for Justice, heard about Jesus, maybe for the first time.
“Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.”
Why do I share this? Its not about me, it certainly isn’t about the money. I don’t want acknowledgement for being a ‘good guy’. I want people to know that I love Jesus, and that if I can do anything in any way to give to something where people will be impacted by the gospel, then I’m in. I’m not perfect, and I don’t always get it right, but I know that the hope I have far outweighs anything that the world has to offer.
At this time during the pandemic, we are seeing people rise up to become a community of people who are willing to go the extra mile for their neighbour. Just look at the key workers (you know who you are). These are the driving force busting a gut to keep the world a sane place. What we do has an effect. Stay at home. Dust off the monopoly game. Spend time reading. Watch a movie marathon. Yet amongst all of this, seek God. Pray together. Explore scripture together. Talk about Jesus together. Immerse yourself in Him who is our hope and our future, so that when we finally get released blinking and stumbling into the street when isolation is over we have a confidence to have an answer in season and out of season.
“But what about social media, pastor Neil?” I hear you ask. Of course, lets use that as a board to encourage and talk about the hope that we have. Speak to family and friends who ask the difficult questions. Don’t think you need the answer right there and then. That’s the beauty of the mystery of God. I said yesterday that something is stirring. I truly believe God is up to something amongst all of this chaos. Use this time wisely. Use it in the right way. Growing my hair and beard led me to so many conversations about why I was doing it. Who knows what seed was dropped into a person simply because I looked like I did?
“Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.”
People will be angry with God. Heck, even you might be angry with Him and have all sorts of questions. But our God is a big God, and He knows what is going on. We just have to stand firm in our faith and confidence that His promises stand true today, like they did yesterday, and they will tomorrow. What you do today for Him will have heavenly consequences in the future, even if you do look like a crazy man! Which, given that we can’t get to the barbers, we may all end up looking like together anyway.
Now, where did I leave my manly hair band…?
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18