An Embarrassment of Riches

It is widely known among school-aged children that my middle son is an expert on the RMS Titanic.  Age ten is about right to harbor an intense fascination with this epic story I think.  My daughter went through a similar phase when she was in fourth grade.  How could anyone not be at least somewhat enthralled with the tragic events in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912.  For heaven's sake, they even made a block-buster film about it.  

My son can tell you the name of the captain, the year the ship sank, and probably even how cold the water temperature was when it went down.  And he can do it all without using Google.  

This picture perfect memory of his goes so far as to pinpoint the exact angle and arc of the four smokestacks that jutted up toward the sky from the deck of the ship as well.  I'm sure they were an impressive sight at the time of the vessel's creation, and no detail is lost on my little guy.  The truth is, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to information surrounding the Titanic.  We even have old log books that contain the names and room numbers of all the passengers that were on that fateful voyage.  In fact, I am certain that if I have misquoted any of the facts about the Titanic in this very article, someone, somewhere will probably notice.  

I believe that in similar fashion, we have an overabundance of knowledge at our fingertips when it comes to studying Holy Scripture as well.  We can pull up an article about the various ways that archeology has vindicated Biblical accounts from history for example.  Five minutes spent in an easy chair with the NIV study Bible, and anyone can sound like an armchair theologian.  It is almost too easy.

By grace of God, this wealth of knowledge also extends to the question of how someone can be rescued by Christ, no matter what their circumstances are.  Or as some like to phrase it: becoming born again.  

It is an important topic, and I dare say it may be the most important topic.  Even the non-believer can see that something changes within a person when they accept Jesus.  They are not the same as they were before.  It is the pivotal point where a person decides that it is okay to want more than this world has to offer, and to understand at the same time, that we are imperfect beings in need of grace.  This realization often breeds a degree of discontentment (as I think it should), and can lead a person to look deeper for something eternal and more meaningful.  They truly begin seeking after God, as it were.

My favorite piece of Scripture is Romans 10:9.  It is simple, straightforward, and heartfelt.  To argue about its meaning is silly, and to ignore its implications is equally foolish.  It says this, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

There are no peripheral statements that go along with this edict.  It doesn't say 'declare with your mouth ... and you also need to wear the right type of clothes each Sunday'.  Nor does it say 'believe in your heart that God raised him, and also make sure to correct people if they make a mistake during vacation Bible school.'

It is too simple to misinterpret, and too important to ignore.  It provides us with an embarrassment of riches, at least as it pertains to eternal salvation.  You can Google search it, you can read about it, and you can discuss it on any given Sunday at Christian churches across America, from New York to California.   

What do we do then with this information?  Especially since it is so easily accessible?   I suppose it is possible to ignore it.  We could - if we really wanted to - go through life pushing Romans 10:9 away.  Maybe when we die the lights go out, and that's it.  Maybe all of this excitement about God and salvation ultimately comes to nothing.  Some people do hold to this philosophy.

Yet the question of our own significance in this universe is always there, waiting on the sidelines.  It never really goes away.  You cannot reason your way out of it or talk yourself free from it.  Truth be told, I really don't think you can push the big questions away for any prolonged length of time.  God's still, quiet voice lingers like a music box sitting on a dresser in a dimly lit room.  Try as we might, even if we attempt to hide downstairs in the basement in the opposite corner of the house, we can still hear its simple melody playing in the background.  It doesn't go away; it isn't supposed to.

But do we dare take the time to actually listen to the words of the song (do we actually read and think about Romans 10:9)?  Or is it just easier sometimes to keep away from the dimly lit room altogether?

I humbly suggest that we embrace this abundance of Scriptural availability.  I think that we should not only enter the room with the music, but pull up a chair and write down the lyrics as fast as they pour out.  It is usually better to explore that mysterious room than to avoid it.  If we take the time to look, there is often a window that can illuminate things quite nicely.  The curtain will not pull itself open though - it is up to us to initiate it.

I believe God is ready to take in anyone who is willing to commit Romans 10:9 to their heart.  If this wasn't so, He would not have inspired the author of the book of Romans to write it.  The simplicity of salvation is God's gift to us.  It is His way to connect more deeply with you and I.  To accept Christ into our lives, to profess Him to others, and be baptized in His name.  It is nothing less than responding to the music box, and throwing open the window to let the light in.  

My son just finished a scaled down version of the Titanic for a Cub Scout project.  He made it out of cardboard, duct tape, and a healthy dose of natural engineering ability (that his father doesn't have).  I was amazed at the attention to detail.  Four smokestacks are accurately represented, slightly tilted in a backward direction to match the old photos of the real ship.  Trust me, this version of the ship won't sink.  And why wouldn't he get the details right?  There is no reason to be confused, he had an embarrassment of riches at his disposal to refer back to.  The blueprints were always there.

Best of all is the fact that he accomplished his goal.  He went ahead with what was at times, an intimidating project.  Just think what a shame it would have been if he had never started building in the first place.  

The music is always better when we listen carefully to the lyrics, and then do what they say.


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