Well, the official first day of summer isn't until June 21st, but summer has arrived to the mountains! I hope the weather in your home community is as beautiful as it is here, but even more, I hope you will soon be experiencing our weather here in the Valley with us!
Speaking of summer, I'm reminded of one of my favorite childhood summer memories, when my mom would load a bunch of us kids up in our van and make the hour long country road drive to the nearest public swimming pool, just outside of Fredericksburg, Texas. The pool was shaped like a giant 'L', with the long section being the most popular with us younger kids, because it was the shallow end of the pool. You remember the shallow end of the pool, right? It's the area where you can pretend that you are swimming, but if things get a little uncomfortable, you can just stand up and be in control. The shallow end was really awesome because the water was lots of fun, but it didn't require any effort. You could hang out there all day (which we did), without worry of the water doing anything to you, apart from getting all wrinkly.
The deep end of the pool, however, was something different altogether. It was the short end of the 'L', and wasn't nearly as crowded. Sometimes we would venture on our tiptoes up to the floating boundary rope, looking curiously at the brave souls bobbing around in the deep until we turned back to the security of the shallow water. In the deep end there was no longer the security of standing on your own. To venture into the deep end you had to learn to swim. In the deep end, the water had power.
You see where I'm going here? As Christians, its all to easy for us to stay in the shallow end of the pool. Where we enjoy all the warm easy blessings of religion without ever really being challenged. Where we don't have to leave the security of our own control and can have fun with as much truth and obedience as we want, but back away when it gets a bit uncomfortable. In the shallow end we can hang out in Christian culture our whole life, without worry of anything really happening to us, apart from eventually getting all wrinkly.
In the deep end however, the water has power. This is where the Truth is all around us, and we no longer have the control of standing on our own. In the deep water, staying afloat requires effort, learning, and most importantly, is only possible through faith. When we swim in the deep end of the pool, we will be changed. To be sure, the deep water can be intimidating at times, but it is good! This is where we are stretched, where we grow, where Life is so much bigger than we are, where Trusting God is the only option, and where we learn to truly live.
Here at Trinity this Sunday we are taking off the floaties and jumping into the deep end of the pool. The deep end of God's Word that history has come to know as the book of Romans. It will be challenging, we will be stretched, and if you decide go there with us, it will require some effort! But it will be good, it will be freeing, and it will draw us deeper into the richness of God's Truth that invites us to truly live.
Last Sunday I dared our church to read Romans in it's entirety- not pausing for the countless questions you may have, but just taking it in like an all you can eat buffet when someone else paid the bill. That dare still stands! For this Sunday, if you will be in town or listen to my messages online, my challenge is simpler- read Romans chapter one, verses 1-17. Twice. Then read verses 16-17 two more times. Then ask yourself, what does it mean to say- and mean it- "I am not ashamed of the Gospel."
Are you ready to dive in? I hope to see you this summer, and as Delmar said in "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou", Come on in, the water's fine!
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ, and let us press on to maturity...
Hebrews 6:1a (NIV,NASB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17 (NIV)