By David Faust
A geode is a kind of rock that contains quartz or other minerals that have crystalized. On the outside a geode is nondescript—a plain gray or brown rock—but on the inside it’s filled with sparkling color.
Like a geode, the Bible is such a common book, many don’t realize the treasures contained inside. People are like geodes too. Even the most common human being is created in the image of God and has the capacity for extraordinary beauty. As the Bible puts it, we carry around “treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
You can’t tell what’s inside a geode until it is broken apart. Likewise, hardships reveal a person’s true character. Thomas à Kempis said that occasions of opposition “do not make a man frail, but show what he is.”
Facing the Tension
We live in tense times, and our values as followers of Christ can be difficult to balance.
We live with the tension between grace and truth. Jesus said, “This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:17). Yet in the very next verse the Lord went on to say, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Following Christ means loving and being hated at the same time. How can we love everyone without compromising our convictions? How can we stand firm for what we believe is true, while at the same time extending God’s grace toward others who argue against what the Bible plainly teaches?
Here’s another tension. When should we speak up and when should we remain silent? The Bible presents both sides of the coin in two consecutive verses. Be silent: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” Speak up: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:4, 5).
There’s also the tension between action and inaction. When should we step boldly into a situation, and when should we wait patiently for the Lord to resolve things on his own timetable? We applaud David for taking on Goliath, but we groan at the way Peter impulsively swung his sword and hacked off a bystander’s ear during Jesus’ arrest. How can we be brave like David but more effective and strategic than Peter was at that awkward moment?
The apostle Paul counseled his friend Timothy, “Keep your head in all situations” (2 Timothy 4:5). In tense times when it’s hard to know what to do, we need to keep our composure. God blesses calm, steady faith. He wants to give us “power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
God gave Queen Esther wisdom at a critical time in history. The wicked Haman conspired to exterminate the Jews. It took a bold act of faith on Esther’s part to persuade King Xerxes to intervene and spare the Jewish people. When Esther’s cousin Mordecai challenged her, “Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” she decided to confront the king at the risk of her own life, saying, “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:14-16).
In these tense times, may God help us, like Esther, to act with wisdom, courage, and well-timed grace. We are like geodes: when we need to make tough decisions, may our actions (and even our brokenness) reveal the beauty bestowed by our Creator.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for August 23, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
2 Timothy 4
Esther 3, 4