A woman had been exposed to strep and needed to visit the doctor’s office to have her throat swabbed for a culture. She sat in the waiting room for quite a while with her legs crossed, reading a magazine while other patients came and went.
Suddenly her turn was called, but when she stood up to go in she discovered her leg was “asleep.” Not wanting to keep the nurse waiting, she limped and staggered toward the inner office door, each even light step on her sleeping foot sending shocks of a thousand needles of pain into her foot. A couple watched her make that slow painful process to the door.
Five minutes later, her procedure completed and her leg back to normal, she walked easily back out into the waiting room. As she strode past the two, she overheard one whisper to the other, “I TOLD you he was a wonderful doctor!”
I want to show you a clip from the movie “Wall-E.” Wall-E is a little computer machine at a time when planet earth is no longer suitable for human habitation. He is left behind as we take off in a massive rocket/aircraft that orbit continually in outer space until earth cleans itself of our damage enough so we can return. Poor little Wall-E continues to deal with the mountains of trash we constructed.
What I want to show you is the part when Wall-E gets up to the human space ship, and who he finds: Us in the future.
Legs are important. We lose our way when we lose our legs. What legs symbolize is our willingness to get up and see for ourselves and care enough about what is true and real.
Whenever I see one of the members or friends of the church at a rehab facility, perhaps after they’ve been in the hospital for an extended stay, the number one issue is always the legs. Lying in a hospital bed saps the strength out of anyone’s legs, especially as we get older.
Now in rehab, things aren’t always much fun. The therapists will work you. And what do they work? Your legs. I often say, “If you want to get home, you’ve got to have your legs. You’ve got to work your legs so they’re strong again.”
Legs are important.
If you look at our Luke reading from a certain perspective you will see something very interesting. Luke gives us a picture of three kinds of faith:
Proactive, reactive, and non-existent. Ok so the last one can’t really be called faith.
Let’s start over. There are two kinds of faith: proactive and reactive, and there appears to be one kind of a lack of faith.
One of these is present in the three sets of people in Luke’s passage. The women exhibit tremendous proactive faith. They are up and out as the sun comes up. It’s still dark but they are already moving and going. Their faith has nothing to do with the light of the sun or the way the natural world works to get them going. They’re beyond that schedule and way of looking at life.
How are their legs? Working just fine, thank you very much.
The other two groups are different. At first, there is only one group—the men. They are sitting inside, probably afraid to go out. But I’m not sure because as soon as the women come back and tell their story, Peter gets up and runs to the tomb. All of a sudden, he isn’t afraid?!
Peter reacts to the story, the news positively, in faith. He gets up. He gets up off the couch, stands up on his feet and uses his legs, running down to the tomb, looking in to see that it is empty and Jesus’ burial clothes lying there. He checks it out for himself.
The other men however can’t even get up. They just sit there, watching TV or what have you.
And I don’t know about you but I can’t help but hear in Luke’s words, “But these words seemed to them an idle tale,” something of a prejudicial view against women. You can almost see those men, sitting around, hearing these women come back out of breath and excitedly telling their story, and just rejecting them out of hand—not because of the story as much as because it was women telling the story. Sad but true.
Well, actually, the good thing about the men not getting up and going is we get to see the difference between them, Peter and Mary Magdalene and the other women.
What is the difference? The difference is in their legs! Everybody’s got them but only some use them.
Now I’ve got to take a moment to make sure we understand that when I say legs, I do realize not everybody has as much use of theirs as others or any use of their legs. While I’m not being completely metaphorical when we speak about using legs, I’m certainly not saying you have to have a functioning pair of legs in order to have faith.
One other difference is unlike the other men, Peter can overcome a negative, dismissive view of women in order to judge for himself whether it’s true. Peter is willing to get up, get out the door, and get moving in a first step of faith.
And because he does at least this, he gets to see that the tomb is empty. He gets to be amazed. He gets to hope. He gets to have his heart inspired, to feel some joy running through him again. He gets to start being transformed by God’s grace and goodness.
Now, he doesn’t get the privilege of seeing angels Easter morning. That honor was reserved for the women alone.
You see, that’s what a leggy type of faith will get you—honors, privileges, rewards. There is a hierarchy here. There are rewards being handed out here.
If your faith is already moving, already gets you up and going, guess what. You get to the front of the class. If when you hear something good about God, you have enough faith at least to check it out, to see for yourself, guess what. You will get your reward.
But if you’ve got no legs in your faith, if when you hear something and you judge that it sounds like a fairy tale, smells like hogwash; if you take this God talk, this Christ resurrected news, this God loves you in spite of yourself and did something outrageous with Jesus Christ to express it and help you live it stuff as silliness, well then, you’re still lying on your couch. Your reward can only be that old couch with that well-worn remote and TV.
Perhaps you can’t be like those women who are up before the sun rises in faith. That’s alright.
But then be like Peter. Don’t criticize the whole of this faith as an idle tale. Get up, find out for yourself what is true and real for you. There are amazing, incredible truths to our Christian faith. But first, you’re going to have to be willing to get up and see for yourself.
I want to tell you about someone who in some way was like Peter. She received some new. In her case it was bad news, time and again. But each time, she got up, and she kept moving. She could have said this proves there is no God. She could have said if God loved me this wouldn’t have happened. She could have said Christian faith is an idle tale. She didn’t. Her story is amazing, and I want to share with you a letter she wrote.
Faith comes when we stand up, when we use our legs, even when life knocks them out from underneath us. Get up for yourself. Check out a life of
Christian faith, of active Christian faith for yourself. Come and see, like Peter, how amazing the Lord is.