Tim Johnson, editor
February 13, 2011
Alive or Dead?
I recently read about a paramedic being interviewed on a local TV talk-show program. He was asked, "What was your most unusual and challenging 911 call?" Here is what he said:
"Once, we got a call from that big church at 11th and Walnut. A frantic deacon was very concerned that during the sermon an elderly man had passed out in the pew and appeared to be dead. The deacon could find no pulse and there was no noticeable breathing."
"What was so unusual and demanding about this particular call?" the interviewer asked.
"Well," the paramedic said, "we carried out four guys before we found the one who was dead."
It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between those who are alive and those who are dead. There are usually visible signs, but it isn't always easy to tell by looking. This is especially true if, instead of physical death, we are trying determine if someone is dead spiritually. Those who seem the most alive and active in the church may have little or no true spiritual life. On the other hand, the unassuming and unassertive person who sits quietly in the assembly and worships from the heart, goes out daily and abounds in good works, prayer and Bible study may well have a very vibrant spiritual life. It's not always easy to tell, but there are normally a few definite visible indications of life!
When Jesus walked the earth, he showed amazing power in bringing the physically dead back to life. To Jesus, it was no more difficult to raise a dead person than to awaken someone from sleep. When Jesus was told that the daughter of Jairus was dead, He responds, "Do not weep; she is not dead but sleeping."(Luke 8:52). And then, He proceeds to enter the house where the child was lying and wake her up by merely saying "Little girl, arise." It was no more difficult for Him than for a mother trying to get her children out of bed in the morning to get ready for school; in fact, it may well have been less difficult than that.
The same incredible ability is also seen in Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus. He announces to His disciples, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. (John 11:11-13). When Jesus arrives at the tomb of Lazarus, He simply calls out, "Lazarus, come forth!" and Lazarus does! (John 11:43-44).
Jesus has the same power over spiritual death that He demonstrated over physical death. What He said to Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus He also says to those who are spiritually dead: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." (Ephesians 5:14).
Those of us who are Christians have been awakened to new life. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1, cf. 2:4-5). We need to "look alive!" by being active in our service to the Lord. We need not be showy or hyperactive, but we need to show definite signs of life. As Paul commands, ". . . present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:13).
So, imagine that there were paramedics who could be called for spiritually life-threatening emergencies. Could they examine you and tell whether you are alive or dead? Think about it.
-- Steve Klein
It is said that "He who aims at nothing will hit it," and "He who has no goal in mind will get there fast." I wonder, in the realm of Christianity, how many of us go through our lives as Christians with no goals, no objectives, and no plans. "Comfort Zone Christians" is a term that is growing in popularity which describes this behavior, and I believe that many of us fit into this category. Why do I believe this? For the simple fact that it's easy to just do as you please if you have no objectives, goals, or plans in life. No plans means no failures! What an easy life! Thus, with this attitude, everything is nice and safe within our "Comfort Zone." But is that where Jesus wants us to be? Oh yes, He did say in Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me...and I will give you rest." But I really don't think He meant for us to just "kick back and get comfortable" (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12). Rest assured my brethren, one is not going to suffer any form of persecution while in their "Comfort Zone." I believe that God expects us to reach out beyond our private domain.
Let me illustrate with the following example. When a baby eagle is left in its nest, it is in its "Comfort Zone." In order for it to learn to fly, it must leave its "Comfort Zone." Often, the mother eagle will begin to pull the feathers from the bottom of the nest, leaving the baby eagle sitting on the hard, sharp sticks that make up the nest. Get the picture? Many of us are like that baby eagle. We snuggle down into our padded pew; we get comfortable and don't want to go out into the real world. What would happen to that eagle if it never left its nest? It would live and die never knowing the thrill of flight, never reaching its potential (cf. Revelation 3:1). It's sad to say, but it's worth repeating, many of us are like that baby eagle. We'll never know the thrill of flight because we never leave the nest. We'll never reach our potential, or even know what it is, because we won't leave our "Comfort Zone."
When Peter left the boat and walked to Jesus on the sea (Matthew 14:22-31), he had to leave his "Comfort Zone." How many of us would get out of the boat and go to Jesus if He would bid us to come? Now, before you answer that too quickly, consider the fact that He commanded us to "Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23). Jesus didn't ask us to walk on water, just to go out and invite them to come in. But, when going out and ministering to people is suggested, some react with excuses as if you had asked them to walk on water!
Brethren, we need to realize that the boat we must come out of is our "Comfort Zone"; the water we must walk on is the unsure ground of a new experience. This may be a hard road for some to conquer, and some of you may be thinking, "I'll never be able to conquer that road." If this is your thinking, let me remind you of something. A long, long time ago, this same Jesus had to conquer the road that led to Golgotha, "that is to say, a place of a skull" (Matthew 27:33). In conquering that road, He has afforded you and me the hope of conquering the road that leads to heaven. But, in order to conquer that road, we must leave our "Comfort Zone." If this means "out of our seats and into the streets," then let's go! Remember, Heaven will surely be worth it all!
-- Jim Lee
~In Gospel Power, Anderson, Alabama, 2/28/99.