There are times (more than I care to admit) that the “negative Hetzner” in me rises up to exasperating heights. Like a few days ago, when I heard one news affiliate’s mission statement and laughed out loud. The negative old me thought, “A universal mission statement that could be used by most news broadcasts might better say ‘Broadcasting information that fosters fear and animosity while subtly (or not so subtly) advocating a one-winged political ideology’”.
Fortunately, before I wallowed in this mud for very long, the Spirit had me listening to Jesus as he spoke on the mount. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7.1-3) “Lord, rescue me from judging the motives of others and move me to seek understanding as I listen to multiple sides of the issues this day.”
Then Tuesday evening I had a sudden uprising – of all times, shortly before a Board of Directors meeting! I was reading the prayer of the believers prayed when Peter and John had been questioned and threatened by the authorities shortly after Pentecost. “Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” (Acts 4.29-30) “Negative Hetzner” was suddenly transformed into a person saying, “The celebration of Easter this year is going to be one of the best ever – because our world is primed and looking for good news … the very good news that is most clearly proclaimed in the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.
What an incredible hope and faith filled prayer is given us in Acts 4! No concern about their own personal safety. No request for God to hammer sense into their opponents. First, they pray that the Spirit would keep them doing what they were supposed to be doing (Grant your servants to speak your word with all boldness) and then they pray for the well-being and needs of their neighbors/enemies (Stretch out your hand to heal as signs and wonders are performed through the name of Jesus).
What happened next in the Book of Acts is very similar to the sudden uprising I experienced Tuesday afternoon. “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4.31) Tuesday evening I shared with our Board of Directors my anticipation of God doing great things in our midst throughout the year ahead … and every individual in the room joined in raising before Jesus their praise and supplications.
The sound-bites around us echo so many threats and fear-filled dangers that even the weather forecasters join in (What did you think of the dangerous snowstorm we experienced on Monday?). Good news stories add “seasoning” to the news, but they do not provide the “meat” that sells. Me thinks that this Hetzner is not the only negative thinker in the audience!
How does that hymn by William Merrill go? “Rise up, O Church of God! Have done with lesser things; Give heart and mind and soul and strength to serve the King of kings. Lift high the cross of Christ! Tread where his feet have trod; As followers of the Son of Man, rise up, O Church of God.” All of this grows from a sudden uprising that we will celebrate on April 4. For we know that some two thousand years ago, “There was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone (covering the entrance to our Lord’s tomb) … and the angel said, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 28.2-5) That sudden uprising transformed the history of the world … and I am praying that it will do the same thing to your attitude as it did to mine this past Tuesday.