Anger and a brightly lit cross

Published 12:26 pm Thursday, January 14, 2016

I was angry? Why? I was attending an evening class at Lake Junaluska retreat center. The speaker was teaching on the basics of what a church offers to the community through teaching, ministry, missions and programming.

The speaker compared two common church attitudes — one focused on a Godly connection through prayer, Bible study and worship and the other emphasized consumer based, cafeteria-style, pick and choose programming.

The speaker seemed to say that the first attitude was desirable while the other was considered undesirable. That’s when I became angry!

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I stood and argued that today’s church needs both attitudes. The speaker, who remained calm despite my demeanor, said, “Yes, that may be true, but on which attitude do you place your priorities?”

He was urging churches to prayerfully seek an ongoing relationship with God first before rushing to create programs just because people ask for them.

He was right and I knew it, so why was I so upset?

After class, I took a walk to clear my head. It was cold but I was too preoccupied to notice.

I looked up toward the top of the mountain and saw a bright light in the shape of a cross. It took a few minutes of climbing to get there, but finally I stood below a brightly lit cross that could be seen for miles.

Despite the temperature, I somehow felt warm and secure.

It was as if Jesus himself was offering me comfort and reassurance.

After a few minutes of standing quietly, I began to understand the reason for my anger. It wasn’t about church attitudes or programs. It wasn’t even the speaker that was causing my anger.

The problem was me. Underneath the glow of the cross, the words of the speaker became a divine warning aimed directly at me.

I was the one focusing on creative programming ideas while neglecting my own relationship with God.

My priorities were focused on people rather than God, programs rather than relationships. It was so simple, yet I almost missed it.

In the Bible, a young man named Timothy was also faced many pressures and challenges, but an experienced pastor named Paul wrote several letters filled with Godly wisdom: “Cling tightly to your faith in Christ and always keep your conscience clear. (1 Timothy 1:19); “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives tales.

Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness.” (4:7); “Until I get there, focus on reading the scriptures to the church … encouraging the believers and teaching them.” (4:13) 

The lessons from Paul to Timothy are clear: cling tightly to your faith, pray for all people, train yourself for spiritual fitness, read the scriptures, encourage and teach others, stay true to what is right and God will save you — put your ultimate trust in God. 

On a cold dark night beneath a brightly lit cross, I received a priceless lesson.

At the same time, I felt the love and comfort only a loving Christ can give.

I walked back to the hotel with a bounce in my step and a new fire in my heart.

“But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things and follow what is right and good.

Pursue a godly life along with faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.

May God’s grace be with you all.” (1 Timothy 6:11, 21)

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at