Archive for the ‘By Steve Solari’ Category

Guest Sermon: Thank God You Don’t Care About Mercury

Thank God You Don’t Care About Mercury by Steve Solari. In this sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, Steve talks about our true identity in Christ.

Encounter with a Beacon

If Tinkerbell could somehow become human, that’s what she would be like.

I was on a plane from Seattle to Detroit, traveling on business. She first caught my attention as the friendly young girl in the seat across from mine and a couple rows over. She was seated in the middle, between an older lady with white hair and a middle-aged man in the aisle seat. The lady needed to use the restroom (as did seemingly everyone else on the plane, twice, but I digress). So the man stood up and made room for the girl, let’s call her Tink, and the older lady. When the lady made her way down the aisle to the restroom, Tink stayed behind and stood in the aisle. The man, who had a little trouble with English, offered to let her back in. After a couple exchanges, Tink successfully explained she would just wait for the lady to come back, so he wouldn’t have to get up to let her in, and out again, and back in. Well that’s really nice, I thought.

Later, I was looking around the plane, probably with an unconscious scowl because this particular jet was full of people and I was tired of playing aisle-seat bumper-cars with every one of the aforementioned loo-seekers. (I have to laugh at myself — when I catch myself in the mirror, my expression is more of a scowl than a smile, though I didn’t really think I was scowling. So I fix it for the mirror, then walk away. I’m sure 5 seconds later my facial muscles return to their default position.) So when I caught the eye of Tink, what did she do? She gave me a polite, friendly, energetic smile. Wow. That was uncalled-for, yet so welcome! I realized I hadn’t smiled at her, but she paid it forward! When’s the last time you saw that happen on a crowded plane, bus, or train?

These people fascinate me. I always wanted to be that positive; that friendly and happy. But I can barely ever pull it off, for more than 20 seconds or so. It used to be that my ego’s first line of self-defense was to feign omniscience and create reasons why this person could do that, and manufacture excuses for why I’m not that way. Here’s how the discussion usually goes in my head:

She’s had a really great life, so she has no reason to be unhappy.

Sure, she has dodged ever having a problem of any kind. Nice try. Next?

She had a really positive upbringing.

Yeah, so did I. What’s my excuse? Next?

She’s a girl, and girls can pull that off. Guys can’t be that happy and nice all the time. It’s not manly.

Right. I’m sure Jesus walked around with a scowl, and with body language that said “leave me alone.”

She just doesn’t have the kind of stress most of the rest of us have.

You think so, Einstein? Have you ever met someone who claims to have zero stress?

I don’t really care to go on. As I said, that used to be my ego’s self-defense routine, so I wouldn’t feel like a failure as an Ambassador for Jesus. But now I just waive the white flag and surrender. I don’t want to detract from the stunning beauty that is selfless behavior. I don’t want to pretend to know why someone else can do it but I can’t. I don’t want to make excuses for why I’m not the same way they are. I just want to see love in action. I kept thinking she must be Tinkerbell, incarnated, since she seemed permanently harmless, happy, and friendly. But really she was a stunning example of the love of Jesus. When you see something like that, it’s a bit like a crack in the fabric of the world. The infinitely bright, warm light of Heaven shines through into our darkened world for a brief moment in time.

Most of us have met this kind of person from time to time. In my experience, they are few and far between. Sad, isn’t it? Looks like living life more abundantly to me. I have met others like Tink, and found out they weren’t Christian. Whoa! How did that happen? How can someone show the love of Jesus and not know the man?

Could it be that Jesus is working with everyone, and he doesn’t just work with the people who call themselves disciples? Could it be that some people more easily channel the love of God, which permeates every living thing in the first place, and just don’t realize its source? Could it be that those of us who aren’t so positive and friendly are loved just as much? And that, as Paul Young would say, our Father is “especially fond” of each of us, despite our scowls, complaints, and negativity? I think so. And I think Jesus just wishes for our own sake we could unload some of that stress on him and enjoy the ride a bit more. Or a LOT more.

Some people have a talent for speaking. Others have a talent for sports. Others have a talent for singing, or listening, or serving. I think others have a talent for loving. They naturally are good at expressing God’s love for us. Maybe this girl, Tinkerbell, was a Christian. Maybe she wasn’t. It doesn’t matter, because I saw Jesus on that plane.

At the end of the flight, as we were “deplaning,” (yes, as in Fantasy Island) I had the chance to let Tink go in front of me. I waited for her to exit first, as my ridiculously little way of saying, “Thank you for your service to humanity” (yes, I tend to be a little melodramatic when I’m touched). You know what was the icing on the cake? She just grinned and said, “Thanks.” That’s all. Nothing more. If she had gone overboard and said, “Oh! Thank you so much! How sweet! You have a nice day!” that would have killed it. Oh, she’s just insane. I would have thought. She’s lost all contact with reality and is completely, overly positive and emotive about everything. Nope, she just said thanks. Well, that proves it, she’s a real person, I thought. No “inappropriate affect disorder” here. No excuses. A real person with real gifts. The gift of God’s love, and the gift of expressing it.

Now the wrong way to end this little story would be to encourage you, the reader, to be like Tinkerbell (if you aren’t already). I might as well try to will my wisdom teeth back into existence. Chances are, it ain’t gonna happen. Can you and I have more moments of being like Jesus as we mature in our relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit? Absolutely. Can we live life more abundantly as we find the passion God has put in each of our hearts to do whatever it is he plans for us? Absolutely. Can we focus on what’s really important, that we are eternally adopted into the Family of God, by the grace of the Father, through the faith of Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit? You betcha. But a complete personality overhaul is usually not possible. Am I an ogre? No, despite the probable sound of it. Are you? I seriously doubt it. Chances are, you and I are somewhere in between Attila the Hun and Tinkerbell. We can move a bit one way or the other, but we have a personality that is fairly stable. But as we mature in Jesus, we will have more moments when his light shines through. We will have more moments when we don’t get in his way. We will realize it’s not about improving ourselves — it’s about letting the Spirit shine through us. It’s about being more like Jesus. And the best part is Jesus is already in us. And we are in him. He’ll work out the kinks and the dark spots for us. Over time, more and more of his light will shine through. And it won’t be up to us to try to be more loving or more kind. His loving-kindness is already there. The Holy Spirit will just teach us to get out of the way.

~ Steve Solari

Wake-up Call

I awoke this morning with a familiar ache. Not a physical pain, but an emotional one. Thirty-five years of living a lie; of believing a false reality — had etched in my heart a wound that can only be healed by repeated exposure to the truth. As I always do in the morning, I felt distant from God.

My conditioned response has been to tell myself to pursue him immediately. So my brain, in an attempt to create a plan of action, began making a spiritual to-do list. The familiar instructions came down through my mind like a sudden rainfall on an already-dreary day. I have to pray. I have to study. I have to meditate.

This time, though, the rain suddenly stopped. It was like sunlight breaking through, and I remembered, No I don’t. I remembered a truth I learned so recently that it has yet to make it into the depths of my subconscious: I am already in the midst of the family of God, right now. I could not be any closer. Then I wondered where that urgent list of tasks was coming from, much the same as when God asked Adam and Eve, “Who told you that you were naked?” I felt the Holy Spirit asking me essentially the same question– “Who told you that you were naked, devoid of my presence?”

I had to laugh on the inside. Like a long-time bachelor only recently married, I awoke thinking I was alone. Thanks to the grace of the Father, and the faith and sacrifice of his Son, and the power and love of the Holy Spirit, I was born into the family of God, adopted from before I first existed.

The crazy thing; the sad and horrible thing — is I’ve been lied to ever since the beginning. The same one who said to Eve, “You will not surely die,” has been telling me through every means available, “You are far, far from God, and he is a God who will only love you if you obey his orders. Orders, by the way, which are impossible to follow.”

As I grew up and matured a little in my faith, that lie wore through like an old, filthy rag that can no longer hold up against any resistance. It was replaced by another: “Despite your salvation by grace, you must always strain to live a righteous life and always chase after a God you can’t reach, until the day you die.” But this is just a variation on a theme. It’s the same old, “You are far from God” lie. And this lie — the same one implied when Eve was told she could not believe her Father — is as old as the human race! If you ask me, the world’s oldest profession isn’t prostitution — it’s lying! And the price is our peace, joy, and happiness, given one who won’t spend it anyway!

As light dispels darkness, the truth dispels the lie. We are close to God. We could not be any closer to our Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit than we are right this very moment. It is the truth we have always been denied. It is the most powerful bit of knowledge we can have. And that is why there has been a campaign to hide it since the beginning of time.

Do you have the truth in you? Have you let it sink deep, deep down into your psyche? Are you bathed in it daily, like you are bathed in the light, love, and glory of the family of God? Is it written in your heart? Is it coded into your DNA so it permeates every cell of your being? That’s how deep the truth goes; so must your belief of it be. It is truly the only thing that matters.

I look forward to the day when I wake up and my first thought is a true one — “Welcome to another day in the light, love, and joy of your family. You get to spend the whole day today with the three people who love you most in the universe.”

~ Steve Solari

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