Sunday, November 29, 2020

Keep Your Feet Moving


Keep Your Feet Moving

Matthew 10:16-23

            Network television is pretty much lost on us.  We rarely watch anything on the major networks except the news from 5:00-6:00 each night.  We keep up with some of the British and Australian mystery series on PBS.  We don’t stream anything.  We have a bunch of movie and PBS DVD’s we keep saying we’ll watch, but we never seem to get around to it.

            What we watch mostly is sports.  I count myself fortunate to have married a woman who not only enjoys sports as much as I do, but also enjoys watching them the same way I do.  We even root for—and against—the same teams—mostly.

            After supper—sometimes during supper—we turn on a football, basketball, or baseball game and let it run as background entertainment.  My wife enjoys doing puzzles and I usually keep two or more books going at the same time.  We keep the sound turned down low on the TV so we can keep track of the game without it demanding our constant attention.  If the announcer gets excited we know to look up because something important is happening.  Thank goodness for instant replay.  This combination of activities keeps us entertained for hours.  When one game ends, we turn to another one.  When the last game is over (or the last one we want to watch) we turn off the TV and continue with our reading and puzzles.

            I know we’re unusual, but that’s how we enjoy an evening at home.  It’s not that we ignore the games; it’s that they rarely are so interesting as to claim our complete attention.  We can do this for an entire evening, rarely even speaking to each other.  We’re not ignoring each other, we’re just comfortable enough in each other’s presence that we don’t have to talk much.

            One thing I have learned from football:  the guy with the ball is most successful when he keeps his feet moving.  Sometimes a runner will seem to be stopped by one or more tacklers, but he keeps his feet moving, keeps his legs pumping, and gains a few more yards.  Recently we saw a runner score a touchdown while hopping on one leg.  The other leg was being held parallel to the ground by an opponent.  Pretty determined running.

            Jesus was teaching his disciples the same lesson in today’s Scripture passage.  He warned them they would face difficult times.  “Behold,” he tells them.  “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”  They will be hauled into court, beaten, jailed, perhaps even killed for the sake of the gospel.  They may be given over to the authorities by their own family members.

            Jesus paints a bleak picture.  Think what it would be like if someone tried to recruit us to work for a company and said, “We’d love to have you work for us, but you should know up front it won’t be easy.  There is a very good possibility that you will wind up in court.  You could be beaten and jailed.  You can’t rule out the possibility of torture and death.  Your own family may turn against you.”  Not much of a sales pitch, is it?

            But Jesus’ sales pitch doesn’t end there.  He promises that the retirement benefits will be the best part of the package.  He says, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

            Jesus has one more warning.  The work will not be completed in your lifetime.  When your time here on earth is over, there will be work left for the next generation, and the next one, and the one after that—on and on until Jesus says, “That’s all!”

            Above all, keep your feet moving.  Keep your legs pumping.  Keep pushing that pile of obstructions forward, keep moving the ball farther down the field.  You may not reach the goal line, but get as close as you can.  Someone else will pick up the ball and continue the game.  Endure to the end.  The next set of players will take it from there.  Your job is to keep moving those feet.

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