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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Search of the Magic Bullet

It seems that every discipline wishes to find one thing that ties together all the other things they know. Physicists are looking for the string theory. It is the underlying theory that explains all the other theories they have. Biologists believe that water is the source of life. Therefore, they look for water on Mars to give evidence that life happens where water is present. Even people on diets are looking for a substance which, when taken, will allow them to eat anything they like and still lose weight.

Therefore, it shouldn't shock us when people come to church looking for the magic bullet which will rearrange their lives into meaning. Unfortunately, they believe they will either find it in the first time they come or they believe it will not be found in church.

How did we get in this condition? Why do we believe that answers to complex questions are as simple as doing one thing? It certainly sells books, diet pills and gathers large crowds to hear preachers. They all say one thing: "Do this one thing I tell you and you will have whatever you want." So, we do the one thing to have whiter teeth, firmer abs, disciplined children, better jobs and anything else we want. Either the warranty runs out or we are too embarrassed to admit that we were taken in when the one thing fails. But this does not deter us from continuing to look. We keep buying the exercise equipment and pills. The exercise equipment is found in a later garage sales. The pills set in our cabinets forever.

There is a magic bullet but it takes a lifetime to leave the barrel of the gun. It is called character. It means that you are consistent in what you say and do. It means that you stick with the things you say you believe in. It means that you stand up for something. It means you have an overwhelming "yes" in your life that allows you to say "no" to so many other things. It drives you. It is who you become and is the means in which others define who you are.

You don't come to church expecting to find the magic bullet which will rearrange your life. You come knowing that each visit should build upon the rearrangement of your life. You hear the Word of God not expecting it to be the only word you will ever need. You hear the Word of God which builds upon what you have already heard in God's Word. You mature slowly. It creates your character.

Character knows there are forces working against it. Character deteriorates when it is not being built. It goes forward or backward but never sits still. It does not claim to know what it is to love God with all your heart and soul  and all your strength. Character knows that this is always a building process. Character knows that you love differently the longer you love. Character changes the capacity of this love.

Character is not what the world is looking for. The world seeks and instant magic bullet. I don't believe the instant bullet exists. I believe it is all about building character.

Jesus said that unless we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him we cannot be His disciples. Do you really think that is a one time decision? No, each decision to follow Him builds on the previous day's decision to follow Him. It develops the character you need to give your life purpose. Herein lies the magic bullet.

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