Monday, April 4, 2011

Your Spiritual Footprint

Commentary on Sabbath School lesson for 4.9.11

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to one state or the other.”[1]
Ok, I want to make sure you really read C.S. Lewis’ quote, so go back and read it real quick.  No, really.  It’s important; I’ll wait right here…

Done?  Good.  So, isn’t that just a little bit terrifying?  “Every time you make a choice…”?  Now, I don’t think Lewis means when you’re deciding which socks to wear or what to have for supper.  But we do make a whole lot of decisions every day that seem innocuous but turn out to have huge implications.  Look at Eve – her decision to take a stroll through the garden without Adam probably didn’t seem all that important to begin with, but look how that turned out.

Then there’s Lucifer.  The first time he realized that he was different from Jesus; could he have made a less damaging decision?  What if he had decided it was ok that Jesus got all the glory because he (Lucifer) was just a created being?  What if he’d decided that being sparkly didn’t make him equal to Jesus?  That’s pretty hard to imagine, isn’t it?

If you’ve ever played in a band or an orchestra, you remember that, when the group is playing a piece of music, all the parts are important.  It doesn’t matter how small or quiet the part is, it has to be played when and how the score says.  Just because the trumpets play the loudest doesn’t mean that their part is any more important than any other part.  It’s just the most noticeable. 
“German orchestra violinists are suing for a pay raise, claiming they play many more notes per concert than their colleagues do. The 16 violinists point to their less-busy colleagues who play flute, oboe, or trombone.”[2]
What if those violinists decided that they should get paid more than the conductor and start a campaign to discredit the conductor?  That would be a terrible mess!  And it would ultimately destroy that orchestra, just like Lucifer’s decisions caused huge repercussions that we experience every day of our lives. 
“Lucifer might have remained in favor with God, beloved and honored by all the angelic host, exercising his noble powers to bless others and to glorify his Maker. But, says the prophet, ‘Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.’ Verse 17. Little by little, Lucifer came to indulge a desire for self-exaltation. ‘Thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God.’ ‘Thou hast said, ... I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation ... I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.’ Verse 6; Isaiah 14:13, 14. Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of His creatures, it was Lucifer’s endeavor to win their service and homage to himself. And coveting the honor which the infinite Father had bestowed upon His Son, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield.”[3]
What kind of decisions are you and I making that could lead us into that dangerous neighborhood?  Do we sit in church and think about how we could have done a better job on the children’s story than that person?  Or do we make snarky comments about the special music?  Do we criticize the pastor because of his preaching style?  Those are all decisions that will lead us away from a relationship with God.  And our choice to make those comments probably won’t just have negative effects on us and our own walk with Jesus, but it’s very possible that those comments will damage other people’s relationship with Jesus.
“During a 1923 training exercise, a naval destroyer called the USS Delphy led a flotilla of seven vessels down the California coast. The USS Delphy was captained by Lieutenant Commander Donald T. Hunter, an experienced navigator and instructor at the Naval Academy. Without warning, about half way on their training mission, a thick blanket of fog descended on the ships. In the midst of the fog (Hunter claimed it looked like "pea soup"), Hunter couldn't get an accurate evaluation of his location. Contrary to Hunter's calculations, the lead ship was headed right into Devil's Jaw, a scant two miles off the California coast. But that didn't stop Hunter from plowing ahead. That is not surprising, for Hunter was known for his self-confident decisiveness and what others called his ‘magic infallibility’ to guide his ship.
“Traveling at 20 knots, suddenly the USS Delphy smashed broadside into the rocky Point Arguello shoreline. The force of the massive collision of welded steel and jagged rock split the hull of the USS Delphy in half. One by one, the other destroyers followed the Delphy's lead and smashed into the rocks. Twenty-two naval men died. The accident resulted in the loss of all seven ships. It still stands as one of the worst peacetime naval disasters in history.”[4]
Lucifer took a third of the angels.  Critical whispers and gossip have destroyed many churches and the salvation of countless people.
“Global warming seems to be on everyone's mind. … [It] is all very interesting (and controversial, no less), but it really gets one to thinking about a more inconvenient truth—sin.
“For every act of rebellion—every vicious word, every selfish act, every unhealthy state of mind—we further impress our own personal footprint in the wide, growing path of spiritual destruction. By just one misstep, these are the wages: the world will never quite be the same again—and not for the better. …
The good news, of course, is that we can leave another print of an entirely different kind. With every act of redemption … we can further impress the personal footprint of the One who walked before us, ushering in his new kingdom alongside him. By just one sure step, the world will never quite be the same again—and for the better indeed.”[5]
Which creature are your choices leading you toward becoming? What’s your spiritual footprint?

[1] C. S. Lewis
[2] "Violinists Say Pay Far from Noteworthy," Chicago Tribune (3-24-04)
[3] E.G. White, Darkness before Dawn, page 2
[4] Robert McKenna, The Dictionary of Nautical Literacy (McGraw Hill, 2003), p. 97; Charles Lockwood & Hans Christian Adamson, Tragedy at Honda (Naval Institute Press, 1986), pp. 29-49
[5] Brian Lowery, Associate Editor,

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