G O D: Basic Course 101 – The Son: Pioneer and Perfecter of Faith

Broad Creek Scout Reservation. A good while back. A scout went out with hatchet and ax. Shortly after, a rush to the infirmary. It seems the young fellow couldn’t keep straight which one to hack, the log or the leg. He looked up at me as the doctor began treatment and the ambulance came acallin’. “Chaplain," he said, “Can you just give me something to hold onto?” He so squeezed my hand in his as I stroked his head with my other hand that he actually went to sleep in about three minutes. (Talk about “rest in the Lord”, we might say!) The ambo arrived. The scout was loaded. I was disallowed to ride to Hopkins, so the park ranger pick-upped me there… staying close behind the ambo. At 85mph. Over back roads. In the dark. I had the willies! Any minute we’ll tip over, I thought, or lose the ambo on 1 of the hairpin turns. Said the ranger, “We’re OK, friend, all I need’s someone to follow and a light up ahead. Show the way and I’ll know the way!” I’ve never forgotten the ride or that word. They speak to me of Jesus. Jesus, pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Son of God the Father, Maker of heaven and earth.

…Last week, we started a little series of messages on the basics of our faith. God 1st. Know God is maker: we know so much more. SOMEbody’s in charge. The world’s not outta control; your days aren’t pointless. Random doesn’t rule. Every thing and creature has a purpose. What God’s made is good, the glorious for sure, even unto the creepy! God says so! You, yes you, are made of God’s hand and dearest to his heart. We are the work of God’s hand. And now God will show us God’s face. The Son. JESUS! Pioneer, perfecter of our faith. The one to hold onto, the light to show the way.

Oh, we need to rest in the Lord, like that scout at the Camp. ‘Rest in Lord, knowing this Jesus, this Christ has been making our way… from the start! Matthew plots the course. 14 generations, to 14 generations, to 14 generations, Eon in and eon out, God has laid the foundation for the Savior. Why, Luke says, all the way back to dear Grandpa Adam and sweet Grandma Eve! John says our Maker was a kinda corporation from the start, God & Son, Inc., an unlimited partnership, if you will. “Without him [Christ] was not anything made.”

I love it, come the angel to Joseph, just as to Mary, there’s the same word from the start. It’s for them, but also for us. “Don’t be afraid! I’m already ahead of you, Heaven says. I’ve already scouted out the territory and pioneered the way! I’ve got miracles in mind, ‘even got a name for them: Jesus. Saver of souls from sin. What seems impossible with you is child’s play for me. Even a virgin birth, a pure start… no problem!” Now, don’t miss the next part. Everybody, listen up. (Especially you folks up front!) Joseph WOKE UP! And then he did as God desired. That’s always the way. Us sleepwalkers gotta wake up if we’re ever gonna get up and get goin’ in the right direction. Nobody ever learned how to tie a knot (square or otherwise, demo) sleepin’ through the class. Tenderfoot to tenderhearted or soul, if you wanna do what God desires, follow the trail God in Christ has already scouted out and pioneered, you gotta wake up, sit up, pay attention to the One that paves the way. Scouts have their manual, believers their bible, and disciples the will to follow where Heaven (God in Christ) shows the way. That young friend of mine and the ranger beside me are still right. “Put your hand in the hand. And then follow the light!

Now, no one should be misled. There will be shadows, even deep darkness along the way. There’s a cross at the crossroads of our lives. And Jesus has already scouted the way, pioneered in the face of the pain and even put Satan himself on notice… Paradise is possible for the worst of us, and bad/evil will not get the best of us! (Can you imagine that? … God already has!) Maybe it’s because Jesus was so good at the crossroads that he could be so good at the cross. “You’ve heard it said of old, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, put up a fight like this. If any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  “You’ve heard, ‘Love your neighbor, hate your enemy.’ But I say, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who put you down.’” “You’ve heard, ‘Whoever kills is liable to judgment.’” “I say, whoever hates is in the biggest of trouble!” Think about that next time there’s a driver in your way, or a kid joins your troop or youth group and you think he’s a loser… and treat him like one! Follow the light of a Jesus like this, and you won’t be surprised when he turns on his cross to the thief who repents and says, “Today, I’m with you on this cross, and you’ll be with me in Paradise!”

Dear friends, I may not know where each of you is in your spiritual journey today. But I do know you’re not anywhere Jesus hasn’t been or is unwilling to scout out before you get there. I do know he is the one who can make whole, complete, utter and entire, your faith! And He will mark your path and lead the way. You will face no crossroad where he will not mount a cross to show you the way.

So… look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated even now at the right hand of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you… and I,   may not grow weary or fainthearted. ‘Turns out that young scout had it just right. They/You often do. Just put your hand in the hand. And that ranger, too. All we need’s someone to follow and a light up ahead. His name… is Jesus… and he is the light of all the world, for all time, in all places. Just give him a place in your heart!

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