This week I proved to my self, once again, that I am not the man I was a few years ago. I know it is just part of the aging process, but I don’t like it one bit. And I bet most of you out there don’t either. Things you could do a few years ago can’t be done the same way today. Oh, sure, there are the freaks of nature, that, 20 years out of high school, are in better shape than they have ever been in. I am not talking about “those” people… I am talking to the normal, everyday people out there. The weekend warriors, the ones who think they “still have it.”
Now, before I get too far into this, let me explain that I didn’t do anything particularly out of the ordinary. I didn’t run 20 miles with one of the cross country guys in the dorm (like that would EVER happen), or bench press with the guy in the dorm that runs the weight gym off campus… nothing even remotely like it. Nor did I hurt myself taking a nap like some people have been known to do. Nope. I just picked up a large box incorrectly and hurt my back. Of course the box was 4 feet long, 3 feet wide, 1 foot deep, and weighed about 80 pounds.
So, that happened on Thursday. Friday I hobbled around feeling the love of the box that was still in the car where I had left it. Saturday I was able to hide the fact that I was still hurting. Sunday I was feeling better (Monty Python quote) so I decided to play 18 holes of golf. And surprisingly enough, I came back with my back hurting even more! Imagine that. You can go back to my initial statement if you want to…
Enter Margaret, stage left. Anyone who knows Margaret knows that sarcasm runs through her veins (evil blood as Tyler Steffy would say) and trying to get sympathy from her can at times be hard to do. Tonight however, was my lucky day. Not only did she not tell me how stupid I was for playing golf when I knew my back was hurt, she didn’t even tell me to “suck it up.” She instead gave me drugs. You know, Advil, that kind of stuff. And a little bitty pill that she called a muscle relaxer.
Oh my, in 20 minutes my back was pain free. It was amazing. I was walking around and bending and going about my business like nothing had ever happened. Fantastic. Incredible. Unbelievable. I loved it. We watched the Sunday night football game and everything was good. Everything was good for about 3 ½ hours. That was about the time the effects of the pill began to wear off. That is when I realized my back was still hurt. Basically, my body had been deceived. The medicine blocked the pain for a while but the problem (pulled muscle) was still there and was still very much hurt.
I am sure by now you are wondering why in the world I am talking about all of this. I really do have a point. Anyone who knows me knows that I tell elaborate stories to emphasize a point. And this one is no different. I will now take you to the Sunday morning assembly at church. Dr. Edwards, the pulpit preacher, delivered a politically incorrect sermon. It was quite good and at times I just wanted to stand up and shout “amen!” (But my back was hurting and I am not sure how well I would have jumped up… and I am not usually prone to doing stuff like that anyway so the word “awkward” comes to mind).
He was talking about Ephesians 6 and putting on the whole armor of God. Pretty standard stuff. But what was interesting was some of the stuff he pointed out that we should be standing up to fight against. Things (and organizations) that political correctness would deem inappropriate today. Things that a tolerant society would just leave alone so that there wouldn’t be any waves. Things that go against the very fabric of Christianity. And he named names too. And he simply asked the question, “Why are we not doing anything about it?” Good question.
Have we removed ourselves from the fight? Are we confused about our marching orders? Are we scared to enter the battle? Are we afraid we are going to lose? Are we afraid we are going to offend someone? Are we concerned about our image or reputation? Or, do we just NOT CARE. HAVE WE BECOME NUMB? Interesting questions.
Each Sunday we pack church buildings full of people. We are dressed right and we sing right and we pray right and we say the right things and we do the right things. We are timely and efficient. We sit through Bible classes and sermons and we hear the message of God presented to us over and over and over. And at the end of every sermon the invitation is offered and we stand and sing and might even sing all of the verses to “Just As I AM.” We have our closing prayer in which we ask God to “guide, guard, and direct us.” And we march out our beautiful sanctuaries, I mean church auditoriums, and live our lives the way we chose to live them. Numb.
Now you see, it is my observation, that there are many people that are members of our churches that are numb. Just like I was when I took that muscle relaxer. I was numb to the problem. I didn’t feel it and therefore it did not exist as far as I could tell. I did not do anything about my back because I did not feel anything for a while. And it is easy to ignore pain when you don’t feel it. And, it is easy for Christians to ignore things going on around us when we are numb to it as well.
We become numb to the profanity that is on TV today. Or the suggestive innuendos. Or the blatant sinful situations that are portrayed on TV, movies, and in magazines. We have become numb to the slang terms being used today. We have become numb to the things that are advertised on TV and in magazines. We have become numb to the harmful effects of things that re being legalized around our country. We have become to the life styles people are living all around us, even in the “Bible Belt.” We have learned to just block it out. Ignore it. Pretend as if it did not happen. After all, we do live in the age of political correctness. We should not offend anyone by addressing something that is right and wrong. After all, what standard would we use? The Bible?
We experience physical pain for a reason. Dr. Judy and Dr. Anna, physical therapists, would probably tell you that pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong! Even though pain hurts, it is helpful because it lets you know something is not right. Once the problem is fixed and dealt with properly, the pain goes away. Taking painkillers and muscle relaxers just masks the pain and does nothing for the problem. Our society is not going to get better all by itself. Moral issues will not fix themselves either. Why do you think Jesus said in John 15: 19-21, “If the persecuted Me they will persecute you, for they do not know the One who sent Me.” Matthew 5:10 tells us to rejoice, for they persecuted the prophets that came before you. That is why we are to put on the full armor of God, so that we can withstand the attacks that will come. The armor is not going to keep you from getting hurt, it will keep you from getting killed!
I remember the first day I played organized football. Middle school. I had played back yard football and was the Joe Montanna of my neighborhood. I was ready for the big time and I knew it. I had a cannon of an arm and the accuracy of a Patriot Missile. I remember going through line that day to get my equipment. Pads; helmet; jersey; pants; cleats; mouthpiece; etc. I put the pads in their respective places, thigh pads; knee pads; hip pads; tail bone pad; ear pads; shoulder pads, and suited up. Hmmmmm, bulky, awkward, restrictive. But cool. Very cool.
We warmed up, ran some laps, and I went to my first drill where full contact would be made. I was with the running backs and we went one on one with the linebackers. Piece of cake I thought. I faked left and went right and WHAM. Lights out. Coach Nunley was standing over me with smelling salts. I felt to see if any body parts were missing. Wow, the pain was unbelievable. And I got up and did it again. And again.. And again. When practice was over I went up to my coaches and asked them where the rest of my gear was… they obviously had forgotten to give it to me. I knew there had to be more pads because I had way too many places that were exposed!
They assured me I had everything I needed. The pads they gave me did not protect me from pain, they protected me from serious injury. It hurt to play football. But the pads did their job. And at the end of their tour of duty they were beat up and scarred. Battle scars. Reminders of the games and practices that I had gone though. I still have my helmet. I can probably tell you who we played the night I got that mark, or that scratch, or that nick. Your equipment should be beat up and worn out when you get finished with it. Otherwise, you didn’t use it! The same applies to the armor in Ephesians 6. Our spiritual armor should be beat up and worn out when we finish with it… after all, we are fighting in a war. If you don’t have beat up armor, you didn’t fight. And Jesus tells us that if we are not for Him, we are against Him. If we are not gathering we are scattering.
You are in the fight. You are on one side or the other. There is no neutral ground. You have armor that has been issued to you. It is your decision. You can fight. You can become numb. You can be captured. You can fight for Satan. Revelation 2:10: Remain faithful, even until the point of death, and I will give you a crown of life. Victory is found for those who take up their armor and fight! So, what are you going to do? Are you numb to what is going on around you? Or are you going to fight? The choice is yours and yours alone.
Have a great week. Go out and be a blessing to someone. Make a difference.