One barrier-breaking example
On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. … And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord.
- from Ezekiel 17:23-24
Runners weren’t sure that anyone would ever break the four-minute mile. They tried and tried and failed. Until Roger Bannister broke the barrier in 1954. Now, runners regularly break that barrier. In fact, runners for the US men’s team can’t even qualify for the Olympics unless they can break a four-minute mile.
Every year on Coney Island Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs hosts a competitive eating contest. For decades competitors routinely ate 20 to 25 hot dogs in 5 minutes. Until 2001. That year Takeru Kobayashi (5’ 7” | 135 lbs) ate 50 hot dogs in 5 minutes. The audience was stunned. Today competitors routinely eat 60 hot dogs each competition.
One barrier-breaking example can inspire an entire community. When the Lord plants Israel and they become a “noble cedar” community, something happens in the surrounding nations. That’s what Ezekiel is getting at in today’s passage. What God’s doing in Israel will have a broader impact beyond Israel.
Look at us today. Few of us are descendants of the nation of Israel. Yet we turn and worship the Lord. We praise him and rely on him. He is our hope and our strong foundation. If we find ourselves planted on a mountaintop, we give him credit and praise.
God’s work in us can inspire others. His work in our community and our church can inspire communities and churches around us. This is a beautiful but also a dangerous thing.
How tragic would it be if people tried to imitate your life but didn’t have access to the God who makes your way of life possible? How sad would it be if churches tried to imitate our community but didn’t know that the most important thing about us was that the Lord is at work in our midst?
Don’t encourage people to imitate your behavior. When they’re inspired by the Lord’s work in your life, encourage them to connect with God.
Who can you encourage to connect with God this week? How can you be encouraging them?