We know how hard it can be – don’t we?
Some say we don’t.
Or, well, whatever.
Some folks say we don’t know ‘how-hard-it-can-be’” to live in peace, love and fullness. Some people say we don’t know. Some people say you don’t know. But I disagree. I know you.
You’ve got husbands who are dying.
You’ve got wives who are sick.
You’ve lost children.
You sometimes feel alone.
You’ve been rejected by people.
You’ve had a broken heart.
You’ve lost a job.
You know that you’ve got it good … most of the time … but you sometimes wonder is it all really worth it?
Is my marriage worth it? Is my job worth it? Is my life worth it? Is my annoying fifteen year old daughter who thinks I’m stupid worth it? Are my parents worth it?
I know you. And I know you know “how hard it can be” sometimes. Life is hard – even for us. Even for comfortable Americans like us – like is still hard. For as anybody knows, comfort, knowledge, even security can be bought. But love, peace and truth cannot – at least not buy us. And you and I know this.
We know where love, peace and truth come from? Don’t we? I hope we do. Because it is only in knowing where these things come from that people can be free to rejoice in the midst of world like this.
Just like modern life, the Book of Acts is filled with stories about folks who’ve got everything they need. Except for that missing peace of God. And they know it.
Today’s story about Philip and Eunuch is one of these stories. It’s kind of like the celebrity conversions you hear about these days. You know like Jane Fonda – who was brought to Jesus riding in her chariot, by her driver.
In our story from Acts, the celebrity in question, is a rich man from Ethiopia. He has come all the way to Jerusalem to encounter and worship God. Having come a step or two short of fulfillment, this African celebrity heads home, in the back seat of his chauffered first century limousine. The story says this guy is missing a few things – first of all he is a Eunuch. And second, while he can read Isaiah, he is unable to understand what it really means. He can sing the song, but he can’t write it on his heart. He doesn’t grasp how the Word of God fulfills the heart of a seeking soul.
Philip, a guy who has practices the art of listening to and obeying the wind of the Holy Spirit, shows the Eunuch how Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. And somehow, the Eunuch finds what he’s been seeking – all the way from Ethiopia. And he jumps to it. He gets up and goes. He says, “Put me in that water of life, right now.”
And the incomplete man – the Eunuch – is made whole. Not by power or wealth — which he already has. But by the presence of God’s fulfilling Word in his heart. And he goes on his way, complete – and rejoicing in it.
June Carter Cash died the other day. Her story’s always moved me. She gave herself to Christ after many struggles with dogma and doubt. And finally, leaping off the cliff of “belief” or “knowledge” — she released her life to the spirit Jesus Christ. And her heart took fire. And warm in the Spirit, she freed her boyfriend too — a wild young man who loved his whiskey and his pills way more than his God.
When Johnny Cash came to Christ in 1968, he and June put a face on the Good News of Jesus that the wild 60’s Culture hadn’t really seen yet. The hard-living drunk and the warm-hearted angel loved one another, and while they still talked about guns, and love, and whiskey, they also sang of God’s love to the poor, the broken, and the despised. And they touched those people – big time.
One of the folks they got to know was a young Jew from Minnesota – who was already the most influential songwriter of his generation. The year before Johnny Cash accepted Jesus, Bob Dylan recorded John Wesley Harding, what many call the first Biblical rock album. The song “All along the watchtower” is an abstract meditation on themes from Isaiah.
The year after Johnny Cash became a Christian, he and Dylan got together and recorded a song which goes like this:
“Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea.”
A few years later, Bob Dylan wrote three ground-breaking Christian albums which would shock and surprise pop culture to the core.
Thank God that rich and famous folks like these were able to fill the emptiness in their souls with the spirit of truth. Because of people like them, millions of people have come to discover the missing peace of God too.
Millions of spiritual seekers have heard the voice of God in the music of the June, Johnny and Bob. And not just some mish-mash spiritual junk – but the real live word of God. The light of truth which gives people hope. The breath of God who comes to us as an advocate, a helper, a servant. The Holy Spirit who snatches us up, right where we are, in this place which can be so hard.
Like Philip, and the Eunoch, these modern witnesses were touched by the Holy Spirit of God, and they took that message to heart, and went out into the world to spread the word.
They became the voice of Jesus saying, “I know you.” “I know how hard it can be.” “I love you.” “I want you.” “I have come to show you the way.”
Now we have heard that voice too. Haven’t we? If we haven’t – who will share it with us? If we have – who will we share it with? The Holy Spirit of the Lord has come to you and to me, and he says, “Get up, and go.”