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“A Few Good Men”
Recently I was in a bible study that I have been attending for almost two years. I was one of many that attended the class, and I have grown to appreciate not only the fellowship but the friendships that have emerged. It is really a unique space. From this, I am convinced that GOD has a sense of humor, as it is a gathering of people who are all from different sides of the tracks. From time to time, I have asked myself, what am I doing here? However, what I have learned is that in this life you don’t always get to go where you want; God will lead you to places where He wants to go. Our greatest growth will often happen in places where we don’t expect it. This is because it’s never about us. Sometimes we will discover acorn seeds in strange places, so never dismiss small beginnings or things you do not understand.
A red light moment
During one of those sessions, a question was asked that sounded simple to most of us. As the class began to discuss the question, a certain response caught my attention. It was what I called a “red light” moment. These are moments that cause you to pump the brakes and ask yourself questions. As I drove home that evening, I pondered the various comments and filed it away for a follow-up during my “ME” time with God. These red-light moments happen often in our lives, but rarely do we pay attention or follow-up on them. It is in those moments when you realize that GOD still speaks beyond the “burning bushes.”
During 2021 we have seen many red light moments in our culture. Some things have become the norm in so much that we have almost become desensitized to them. I am sure you might have had this experience on a personal level at some time in your life. Red light moments are not planned; they just happen. They come at you “fast and furious” and will often have your name written all over it, “you got mail!” It is a small tremor that gives off a big shock wave. You could be in a room with a group of people, and you might be the only one that sees or feel its effect. I have kept you in suspense long enough, so let me tell you about this “red light” moment.
In his response to the answers, that was given to his question, one of the great minds in the room said, “Is that the company line?” Though the room did not shake, and the chairs did not move, it was a “red light” moment for me. The majority of the class ran the red light, I thought, or maybe it was not meant for everybody. Ever been in church, and you thought the speaker was just speaking to you?
What triggered this lively discussion was centered around expanding the “tent” (the body, demographics, or inclusiveness) of the church. Is the message, right? Or is the message outdated? I felt connected to what this great mind was saying: “It does not matter what your truth is, deep down in our soul, truth will recognize truth when it is spoken.”
In one of the greatest movies of all time: “A Few Good Men,” the most iconic scene in the movie is played out before our eyes. It’s between the protagonist and the antagonist; it goes as follows:
“You want answers?”
“I want the truth.”
“You can’t handle the truth.”
Though the truth will set us free, we often cannot handle it. Especially when it affects our way of life, and our way of thinking. Sometimes we choose not to know or seek the truth because it frees us from being accountable. My bible study classmate wanted a better answer than what he was hearing or had learned. I parallel this to when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3:1-21, KJV). Nicodemus had knowledge; he was an educator and member of the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin.
The scripture says: “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.” (John 3:1). Nicodemus wanted more; he knew some things but there was still something missing. He knew the company line he was raised in, but there was something inside of him that said there must be more than the company line. Noticed, he came to Jesus by night. He wanted to go deeper. Listen to his Q&A session with Jesus: (v.2) “The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, ‘Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.’ (v.3) Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ (v.4) Nicodemus saith unto him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’ (v.5) Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’”
There is a Nicodemus in all of us, but note that Jesus does not give him the company line that was written in his Tanakh or what he had heard in church on Saturday. Mindsets and habits do not change overnight. We are the product of the soil that we grew in. We are often like the stain glass windows that are dedicated to our parents, and grandparents who were founders of the church. Our default mode is often subconsciously saying, “We have always done it this way and said it that way.”
The living word
We live in a different world, a new reality, yet the one constant that has made any sense to us is that “company line.” It does not matter what direction we go in. We will always find our way back to it.
The original question was how do we expand the tent? Another way of phrasing the question would be what does the tent look like in 2022 and beyond? First, we must recognize that the tent belongs to God and not us. Second, we must be empowered by the Holy Spirit: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1, NIV). Thirdly, we must preach the truth of the gospel. If you do not know it, seek it and study it, then ask God for revelation, wisdom and knowledge. Forth, and finally, I would say we must become doers. My wife from time to time will tell me, “I want to see what you do, not what you say.”
What is God’s company line?
What do people see and hear when they speak to you? Are you the company line? Is your life representing the company line? You see, the company line is the ultimate game-changer when it is put into action. “It is patient; it is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” According to 1 Cor. 13:4-7 (NIV), LOVE is our company line.
God is Love and God and the His Word are one. That is why it is called the “Living word.” We must not allow the Word on the inside to be completely different from what is displayed on the outside. Jesus often left the ninety-nine for the one. It is now time to leave the one and go get the ninety-nine. They may not come back to the church building. They are your neighbors, the person at the traffic light looking for money, the local senior citizen center, or the inner-city school looking for volunteers. “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).” The company line still has the power to draw; it is personal; it is relational. It still works. “Heaven and earth will pass away but my word” (The company line) “will stand” (Matthew 24.35 KJV).
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