In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. The satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target. Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun.
Mistakes aren’t always bad. Toasted Ravioli began life when a chef dropped a traditional ravioli into the fryer instead of boiling water. It became an instant hit with numerous other Italian restaurants adding it to their menus. The Ooey Gooey Butter Cake had a similar birth. There are two different butter “smears”, one for the traditional pound type cake and the other designed to hold ingredients together like nuts. Back during the great depression a new baker added the wrong butter smear to the pound cake and he didn’t know it until it came out of the oven. The result was an ooey, gooey mess. Instead of throwing the batch out, they sold it and it, too, ended up being a regional favorite in the St. Louis area. Both were mistakes, but those mistakes created a whole new category of snack foods enjoyed by millions every year.
What is the difference in a post and a sapling tree? Plant a post and a tree in the ground side by side. At the beginning the tree is small, slender and easily bent or broken. The post, on the other hand, is large, solid and strong. It is hard to move and will support a fence. But then the forces of nature take over. The tree begins to grow little by little, gradually becoming bigger and stronger. In a few years it stands tall and sturdy, while the post planted at the same time has rotted and fallen over. What about those of us who profess to be Christians? Are we like the tree or the post? If our Christianity is dead, like the post, then we will surely grow weaker and weaker year by year, until finally we fall away. But, if we are truly alive in Christ, then the passing years will see us grow stronger and more mature than the beginning.
A housefly saw a large crowd of flies dancing around on a piece of brown paper below him. It looked like they were having a great time. He was delighted and prepared to join the crowd. Just before he landed a honeybee zoomed by calling out, “Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!” The fly shouted back, “Don’t be silly, those flies are dancing down there! Everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong!” And, he landed permanently!
One of the most difficult things in life is to see ourselves for who we really are. Someone has said, “If we could see ourselves as others see us we would probably deny it.” This has been a challenge for religious people throughout time. Jesus was regularly in conflict with the Scribes and the Pharisees, and He called them “hypocrites.” In Luke 18, Jesus told about a Pharisee and a Publican who prayed. One big difference between the two is the Publican was able to see himself for who he really was, while the Pharisee was in the same spiritual drought if not worse, yet he thought highly of himself and looked on the Publican with disgust. It’s very difficult to see ourselves, know our own strengths and weaknesses, when we are constantly eyeing others. Thus Jesus talked about a hypocrite with a beam in his eye while trying to judge a brother who had only a speck in his eye.
I want to be able to look in the mirror and see self for who I really am. I need to know my weaknesses so that I can do better. I need to be aware of my own faults lest I too become a hypocrite. The apostle Paul, who by the way was constantly aware of his own shortcomings, said to the brethren at Corinth, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not our own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Corinthians 13:5).