Thursday, April 01, 2010

Men in Bathrobes, Wearing Beards

Why, you ask, are those men wearing bathrobes in church? Why the fake beards and long hair?

The church is not the holding an Original Amateur Hour; these ordinary guys haven’t gotten the urge to expose their repressed acting talents. Nor have they made bets on who will and who won’t follow through.

This is the first annual Easter Play. These men have invested about thirty hours in practice, not to mention submitting to makeup thickly applied. Before the performance began there was some teasing behind stage, but now everyone is serious.

The reason behind the phony get–ups and memorized script is simple. Each of these men wanted you to know that Jesus is real. Get it? The play is artificial, but Jesus is real. The singers added their voices to the songs in the taped background music.

You knew you weren’t going to see a reality show when you saw the velvet curtains pull aside and reveal a painted background of hills and sky. When the microphones let out those small squeals you knew this wasn’t a Hollywood production.

But there is a reality here that deserves your attention. Jesus is real to each person who volunteered for this Easter Play.

Yes, Jesus. The same one you saw on flannelgraph when you were a little kid in Sunday School. The same one the pastor talks about on Sunday.

Good news: Jesus is real and He is an every-day-of-the-week Savior and Friend.

You didn’t see the real Jesus in the play. That was Floyd who plays guitar most Sundays up front on the worship team.

But Jesus is here. God is here.

Last night when you gazed at the dark sky those weren’t twinkling lights up there. Those were worlds afar off. Galaxies and universes created by the One and Only Powerful, True God.

The Bible gives a fascinating history from Day One at the beginning, going all the way to telling what’s going to happen at the Grand New Beginning in Heaven. Early on, mankind turned away from worshipping God, and took off in an independent direction, choosing to rebel against their Maker. Turning away from God is a sin.

Listen what it says in the New Testament, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

That, my friend, is not a line written by a script writer.

Listen again, “God so loved the world.” Any questions so far? God loves each and every person. “That He gave His only Son” is pretty clear. There are not a variety of ways to eternal life. It’s have Jesus and be saved, or don’t have Jesus and be lost.

“Whoever believes in Him should not perish” shows how serious our response is. Once you have died it’s an irreversible decision, to have neglected to believe on Jesus. “Perish” is a terrible word, a staggering truth. God said it; not our pastor, or our church, or a denomination.

“Have eternal life” means an unending happiness with God that is so wonderful that we can’t even imagine how awesome it will be.

Those words are quoted from the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16. Floyd might wish those were his original words because he’s a nice guy, and he doesn’t want anyone to miss out. But, my friends, Floyd doesn’t have the authority or power of Almighty God to send anyone to Heaven.

If, in the audience only one person opened his or her heart to God, prayed silently when the pastor gave that closing prayer, then each of these men in their bathrobes and beards will know that it was worth it. That one person receiving Jesus as Savior made the annual Easter play a great success. Furthermore, if there’s one person who reads this and responds to God’s invitation also makes the play a success. Look for next year’s production. Or, come to church on Sunday and hear more about the true story of Jesus. Maybe next year you’ll want to be one of those volunteers in the bathrobes and beards.   + + +

by Elaine Hardt ©2005