Monday, November 12, 2018

How bright is your bulb?

For a moment, I would like us to consider "intensity".  There are words we use each and every day without really having a thorough understanding of their meaning.  When we "dig into" the meaning of a word, we often get insight into how God describes things in scripture.  Intensity if often thought of as that event or circumstance that creates some type of emotional response within us that has us "sitting on the edge of our seats", tension mounting, blood pressure rising, heart rate increasing, the mind set to respond with fight or flight.  As a matter of fact, we pay good money to go see movies that will elicit this response from us all within a two-hour window!

I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. 
(2 Timothy 4:1-2 MSG)

I'd like to look at intensity from the vantage point of that which displays the most vibrant color or the most radiant light.  When we look at rows and rows of light bulbs on a shelf, we make our selection based on the amount of "intensity" we want from the light.  If we hope to read by that light, we want a light with focused intensity - one that will illuminate the words on the page.  If we want a soft glow in the room without specific focus on one particular thing, we get a bulb that has a "muted" intensity - because we want calm and just a hint of illumination.  When we look at walls of paint swatches, we see various colors of what we could call "white", "yellow", or "blue" - but there are so many varieties of "color" within each of those palettes.  What makes one different from the other is the degree of intensity - the specific blend of colors that produces the more vibrant hues is said to have a higher intensity than the more muted color.

The persecution of the church did much to enhance the "intensity" of the believers.  When the pressure mounted, the degree of their "intensity" also rose.  Great energy, strength, and passion became apparent in their walk.  As they were made the focus of the attention of men intent on silencing their message, their commitment to follow Christ regardless of the cost became more apparent.  We could say that their "true colors" began to emerge!  There was a "radiance" about them that made the gospel message even more evident in their lives.  As they were scattered to Samaria and the outermost parts of the then known world, theirs was a clear and vibrant message of hope, not despair. Why? They had "intensity".

Intensity is a result of depth - the depth of a person's focus.  When we put a standard light bulb in a spotlight, we would have light "aimed" at a particular subject, but it would lack focus.  If we exchanged that bulb for a spotlight bulb, backed by mirrored substance, we'd see that the "reflected" light becomes more intense, giving us a better focus on the subject.  Now, exchange that for a halogen or LED spotlight bulb and wow!  You have not only focus, but vibrant and very clear light!  

What persecution's impact did in the lives of those believers long ago acted to increase their intensity.  It gave them an even greater "focus".  They were scattered, but in that scattering they had to grow.  The scripture points out that the apostles remained in Jerusalem.  That meant that the scattered believers would have to "dig into" the Word, learn to feed their spirits, and then allow the Spirit of God to "grow them up" in Christ.  The local church exists today because of the intensity of a few then.  First, the few gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem awaiting the power of God to be displayed in their midst.  Then the believers who were gathered in Jerusalem who would hear the message for the first time and embrace it with commitment and intensity.  Ultimately, the "few" that would be scattered to the ends of the earth - the first missionaries - brought much needed exposure to the Word of God and the truth of the resurrection of Christ! 

Intensity is always going to be because of directed focus.  There is nothing more powerful than directed focus - it can change the world - when that focus is magnified by the illumination that comes directly from Christ himself!  How's your focus? Just askin!