Sunday, March 18, 2007

What Important Things Happened Today?

Today's New Testament reading, from Luke 3, makes me think about the first Christian conference I ever attended. Here's the passage:
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-- 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert.
Luke 3:1-2
The speaker started off his message (I think it was the first one of the conference) by commenting on the news, or rather the lack thereof. He hadn't seen the Huntley-Brinkley report or Cronkite's summary of the day's events; he hadn't picked up the New York Times. "But I can guarantee you this," he said. "Nowhere did they say anything about a few hundred men and women gathered at Redwood Christian Park."

In the 1st century A.D., the stuff on the evening news wasn't the stuff God thought important. Why does Luke bother to name Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate, and all the rest here? They're only to tell us when the Important Event happened. What important event? That the word of God came to an obscure prophet in an unnamed place in the desert.

Thinking back on that conference, in the last quarter of the 20th century, I don't recall what the Important People were doing. But I'm going to guess that when those dates are discussed in heaven, at least some of the significant events in the kingdom of God are going to turn out to be some decisions made by unknown people at an obscure campground in the hills.

One thing that happened to me as a result of that conference was that I began to wish that I could make connections between, say, the revelation of Jesus's power on one hand, and Peter's sermons on the other. That as I read the Bible, I could see beyond the events and the sentences that were presented there -- that God would give me insights about what he was trying to say, and how my life should change as a result. Looking back, I can honestly say that that conference changed my life.

And what Important Events happened today? Most of what we see on the news won't be remembered a few years from now. But if God speaks to you or to me in a new way today -- or if we hear him in a new way; if his spirit stirs in us a new desire; if by our prayers, someone takes the next step closer to God; if any of those things happen, that will be remembered in heaven, and who was president or governor will be mentioned, if they're mentioned at all, only so that people will know when the Important Event happened.

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