I was quite interested in two articles today that have a serious note as well as a humorous touch.
The first one relates to Springbok and Lions rugby star, Elton Jantjies. Let me say straight away that I think Elton is a great player and also a reserved and respectable man as far as I can tell. Years ago Jenny and I had a meal with Alan and Rosemary at the Waterfront in Cape Town. Elton, his mom and dad were seated a few tables from us in the Restaurant. Jenny was excited to be that close to a rugby player and had me ask Elton if I could take a picture of the two of them together. He said yes. This was the year that his dad died of bee stings. The articles says that Elton has been released by the Lion’s Rugby Franchise to join a French Club for a short period of time as a “Medical Joker”. The term refers to a player who joins a French Outfit on a short term contract, replacing an injured player.
The second story is of an American tourist on a 9 month African Safari. He had gone scuba diving the day before and return the following day to collect his now dried diving gear at Hermanus Harbour. He parked his hired car with his laptop, camera, lenses, all his documents, visas, passport, etc. and as he was walking away from the car, it rolled forward into the harbor and sunk. He forgot to pull up the handbrake.
Names are important. A medical Joker is not a humorous term.
In rugby, a game known for its strange and often highly specialized specimens, medical jokers are a rare and unusual breed. They are super-powered chameleons, ready, willing and able to leap on to the nearest plane heading in roughly the right direction at almost no notice to take up a short-term contract with a club that is desperately seeking player cover. Their job is to fit in with their new team – fast – and fill a hole until it is mended. Sometimes, they fill the hole so perfectly that what starts as a short-term, typically three-month, medical joker contract turns into a permanent deal. (http://rugbywrapup.com/)
See that? “A rare and unusual breed”. That is the nature of a Christian … a rare and unusual breed.
Ac 11:26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
A rare and unusual breed amongst the Jews and those pagans from so many other religions. They carried the Name to identify who they were and to whom they belonged … the Name “Christian” taken from Christ, their Lord, Saviour, God and King. They were slandered, mocked and ridiculed because they carried the Name Christian. Peter tells us:
1 Pet 4:16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
A Medical Joker will enter into a game that is high paced, technical, strenuous and taxing … remember the Medical Joker replaced an injured player and he is very aware he could be injured as well. He will have to suffer as a Medical Joker. The same is true for a Christian. That fact that you are, you can expect to suffer because you carry the Name. Sometimes people are malicious, jealous, hateful and might treat you badly because the Name Christian means everything opposite to what they believe and stand for … be it because of their religious persuasion or their moral and ethical behaviour. Paul and Barnabas declared in Acts:
Ac 14:22 “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
People might swear at us, scorn us, belittle us, curse us, hurt us and even kill us because we carry the Name. Jesus warned us that what was done to Him by way of treatment could be expected by His followers. The reward of a Medical Joker is a huge salary. The reward for carrying the Name of Jesus is Eternal Life. No contest.
Prevent willful sin. The US tourist made a very expensive mistake. Most likely he drives an automatic in the States and hired a manual gear shift in Cape Town. Maybe this is the reason he forgot to apply the handbrake … Maybe there was another reason … whatever it was, he made a terrible mistake that might well cost him a fortune because even if he is insured, he was negligent. As people who carry the Name of Jesus, “Christian”, we might tend to label our sins as mistakes … but the truth is, they are not mistakes … they are sins. It’s like a Radio Personality explained when he did the traffic report saying … when vehicles collide it is a crash. An accident is unintentional. The fact is that when you crash your vehicle into another … more often than not it’s not that it is intentional, it is bad driving. That is not an accident. It is a crash. As Christians carrying the Name, we might not want to sin … and even try hard not to sin … but sin is not accidental … it is not a mistake. It might not even be planned but it is still sin … and sin is rebellion against God. The tourist did not go out and intentionally jeopardize his safari into Africa. To him it was a mistake or even an accident not applying the handbrake … but when we sin, we sin knowing we offend God.
To all who carry the Name Christian, God says:
1Jn 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
When the Christian denies sin in their life, God says they deceive themselves and are liars and God’s Truth (v8) and Word (v10) do not play a role in their life because the Truth, which is the Word informs the Christian what sin is and the Spirit who gave the Word testifies to the conscience that he or she has sinned.
O Lord my God, You are Holy and Just. Thank You for the enormous privilege of me carrying the Name Christian, yet at times I do not live as cautiously and sensitively as I ought. All too often I sin knowingly. Sadly I offend You and damage our relationship. Mercifully help me to be more circumspect, more thoughtful and more cautious as I go into each day. Lord, my desire is to live for You and to be faithful. Help me to honour You day by day in my thoughts, words and deeds so that You might receive glory as I live life for You through Jesus Christ. Amen.