November 3, 2010

Pompous Piety...

I have yet to find an American author who could describe people with more clarity, animation, and hilarity than Mark Twain.

On a trip to the Holy Lands (I can't imagine Twain in the Holy Lands), he served as a correspondent to the San Francisco Alta California newspaper. While aboard a ship enroute, he overheard a conversation between the ship's captain and one of the Christian passengers. The passenger wanted to know if the ship would be stopped at sea in order to observe the Sabbath.

As if the legalism inherent in the passenger's question were not enough, Twain's description of the passenger told the story even better. He described the passenger as "a solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old iceberg that looked like he was waiting for a vacancy in the Trinity."

To me, this description is so funny! And so sad. Who on the face of the earth has less reason to be sour, gloomy, and spiritless than one who has built his hopes upon Jesus? Isaiah wrote, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." ( Isaiah 12:3) We stand daily and enjoy the waters of salvation that come from God's never ending flow of blessings. It is not good for the world to see Christians as folks who appear to have been weaned on dill pickles and raised in a freezer!

How could we ever become "solemn, unsmiling, sanctimonious old icebergs?" Yet, some good hearted and well-meaning Christians do just that! They forget that there is a difference between "being in the world and not of the world" and "being so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good."

How do we remedy this'? Paul wrote, "as you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him," It would be a good idea for every Christian to stop their busy lives just long enough to make a mental visit back to the day they began their journey with Jesus. Remember the excitement and joy of this new relationship? That inexpressible joy is what Paul is talking about in Colossians 2:6. The world will be drawn to our joy, not our piety!

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