Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living Like Zenith

Norman Vincent Peale, the patron saint of positive thinking, waited impatiently for the limousine. The popular pastor-author of a long-running series of books and magazines on positive thinking and transformative Faith stood quietly studying the nearby statue of Julius Caesar. It lent an aura of the Roman Forum to Caesar's Palace in Vegas.

The tough-minded optimist turned to his wife Ruth and declared, “I’ll never be in Las Vegas again; I might as well try one of these slot machines.”

“Wait a minute, Norman, replied Ruth, “you don’t believe in gambling. Don‘t do it. And besides, someone may recognize you.”

Ever curious, Peale wanted to know more about this practice he had opposed for so much of his life. Arguing that “no one around here knows me,” he jammed a quarter into the slot. Nothing happened. As he yanked the lever down, a voice announced nearby, “Hello, Dr. Peale! I was at your church last Sunday.”

We live and breathe in an age of media marketing that values appearance more than the reality of the content. Jesus speaks to our age of political spinsters, advertisers, public relations experts, and TV preachers offering complete makeovers without personal regard for reality.

“Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’, said Jesus; anything beyond these is of evil” (Matthew 6:37 NASV). Judge not, he added, because you will be judged in like manner Examine the log in your eye, before judging the speck in your brother’s eye (7:1-5).

Jesus called for transformation from the inside out, rather than the artistic makeovers of politicians, preachers, publicists, and public personalities. As the old preaching professor used to say, “Make your sermons so clear they cannot possibly be misunderstood!”

Viewing life through the lenses of Jesus builds character into life unlike the Pharisees of his day who valued appearance more than substance. Dr. Rowland Taylor, the Anglican Vicar at Hadleigh, was observed by those who knew him to live as a reformer. He took seriously the Spirit of Jesus and avoided unnecessary controversy. He lived a Godly life. He internalized the truths that he taught, and he nurtured the poor. On the other hand, followers and friends could not deter the authorities of Bloody Mary from burning Taylor at the stake for opposing their unbiblical practices.

The Bishop summoned Taylor, gave him a tongue-lashing, imposed a two-year imprisonment, and tacked on a death sentence. Just five days before the burning—February 5, 1555—Taylor presented his son with his only remaining writing, a book of Christian advice. Taylor commended his family to God, declared his confidence in God’s faithfulness, and reminded his parishioners to continue walking in the truths he had taught them.

Assured of his heavenly welcome, Taylor urged his people to avoid blasphemy by turning back to false religion, and added his confession: “In thee, O Lord, have I trusted: let me never be confounded.”

The Sheriff then took Taylor to Hadleigh to burn (his Memorial is shown on right). As weeping parishioners followed en masse, a guard thrust the tip of his staff into Taylor’s mouth, thus preventing him from further preaching. Taylor gave his shoes away, while also distributing his remaining coins among the blind along the way.

Without doubt, appearance has great value, but Christianity offers more than a mere makeover. Jesus invites us to experience a transformation, to be "born again" to make our “what is” in life one and the same with “what appears to be” in our life.

From walkingwithwarner, 
we invite you to consider the words of Jesus to begin reconstructing your life from the inside out and live like Zenith, “where the quality is built in”.

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