My son Drew received a pile of money for Christmas when he was ten. He had seen the advertisements running on television, so he went to the mall and plopped down nearly the whole wad of cash on an Air Hog plane. I mean, how could he miss? This is what the company promised on the box.
“Precision designed and patented, Air Hogs R.A.I.D. engine is built to the strictest tolerances and starts every time! Just pump it up and watch it fly over a hundred yards at altitudes of up to 100 feet! Pump up the plane, turn the propeller, and listen to the roar of the engine! Give it a throw and watch the incredible power of this flying wonder.”
Hog is right! Drew and I never were able to get that pig off the ground. Ever. We worked at it for hours. We tried everything, including turning the wings around and having the propeller turn backwards. Exasperated, we shoved it back into the box and shelved it.
That same week, I was launching a series on Ephesians in my church. The book of Ephesians has three chapters explaining what Christ has done for us, followed by three chapters on how we can, and should, live because of what He has done. And between these two sections is this Air Hog-like promise:
“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan (for us!) I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glories, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more that we would ever dare to ask or hope. “ (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Wow. Talk about a marketing! I mean, how could we miss? So many of us have plopped down our lives on Jesus and the Gospel and that promise that he can not only give us eternity, but help our lives fly well here and now.
To paraphrase Dr. Phil, “How’s that Gospel-thing workin’ for ya right now?” Have you worked and worked at it? Tried everything to get lift but can’t seem to get a new life off the ground? Thinking about shelving the whole thing, concluding the Gospel is hype, or maybe you’re a lemon?
I wondered that about Drew’s Air Hog. Then a few weeks after we got it, I used our failed Wright Brothers’ experience as an illustration in the Ephesians series I mentioned. Later that afternoon, I got an email from a woman, named Heather, in my inbox regarding her husband, Jeff, who coincidently, was a pilot for Continental Airlines.
“Jeff got an AirHog plane for Christmas and he flew it for three hours. He loved it.”
Which got me thinking. As with the Air Hog, the claims the Gospel advertised in Ephesians 3, and elsewhere, are not hype. We didn’t get a lemon. The problem is user-error.
Jesus’ Great Invitation, the gospel
That’s why each of us should accept Jesus’ Great Invitation and join him in the yoke of intimate apprenticeship with him. And that is one reason to faithfully attend worship at Calvary and be connected to a smaller community within Calvary, consistently probing God’s word, hearing the in-the-yoke stories of others, and applying what we learn. In doing so, we can get airborne as apprentices of Jesus. “… accomplish infinitely more than I could ever dare to ask or hope.”