Sunday, February 15, 2009

more than a picture

Many of us have pictures of the most beautiful places on earth burned into our memory. These are the places that we would love to visit, given the chance. Pristine white sand beaches, clear blue water, majestic snow capped mountains, huge pine trees covering the landscape - the descriptions go on and on. These are the pictures and images that we could stare at for hours, admiring God's craftsmanship; the sheer amazement and beauty of something so wonderful.
Some have the opportunity to visit these places and see them through more than a picture - and all of these will tell you that these places are more brilliant, more captivating, more moving than any picture could hope to capture.
As I have been reading through the new testament, I have caught myself staring (if you will) at the imagery these writers use to describe what a life submitted to Christ looks like. The last few times I have set out to read chapter 2 of 1 Peter, I inevitably find myself retracing my steps through chapter 1, each time slower and slower, catching the beauty contained in every verse. Passages like those in 1 Peter 1:13-21 show what a beautiful thing Jesus did for us by dieing on the cross, and what true life looks like when we follow Him.
But the abundant life that Jesus talked about is not found in staring at a picture of following Jesus; it is found in actually going to these places, living out the things written on these precious pages. Reading and re-reading passages that captivate our minds and warm our spirits, but not taking the steps to apply these teachings is like a person who tries to tell someone that they've been to Mt. Everest just because they saw a picture of it.
Of course, we would never say this to anyone. But often this is how I live my life to Christ. I think in my mind that I am a good Christian, if only because I read my Bible, regardless if I ever apply what I read to my life - absolutely ridiculous.
The beauty described in these pages is limited by words. Not even a picture can tell all that there is to see. We will only truly know how beautiful it is to follow Jesus when we heed his instructions found in scripture, and submit ourselves to God's working in our lives, perfecting and completing the good work He began in us. Only then will we be able to see how beautiful these things, these places truly are.
Don't just stare; journey to visit.

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