What difference does one letter make? For me, it almost caused me an entire day of frustration and gnashing of teeth. But that one letter taught me a lesson about a 1st Faith.
Here is what I mean . . .
The other day I got on a plane from Springfield, MO to Atlanta, making my way between an event in Missouri and another in Winston-Salem, NC. I would pick up my connection in Atlanta and head to North Carolina; easy enough.
Except I wasn’t paying attention to where I was headed. I knew I was going to Winston-Salem, but which airport was I flying into?
I glanced at my Delta itinerary and somehow saw “GSP,” the code for the Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina airport. Because I wasn’t paying attention, for the past few days I’d been thinking I’d fly into South Carolina and drive into North Carolina. Logically, this is stupid. Sometimes my logic disappears.
Preparing for takeoff from Springfield to Atlanta, my seatmate–chatty enough–asked where I was headed. For some inexplicable reason, I said, “Let me check.” I have no idea why I did this but I’m glad I did.
When I looked at the boarding pass on my phone, I saw something new: “GSO.” Holy cow. I was headed to Greensboro, NC. Before you laugh, I know. Greensboro’s airport is a half hour from downtown Winston-Salem. Greenville-Spartanburg is two and a half hours away. It’s not even close.
Only an absolute moron would make the mistake I made. But I almost did.
And it was over one letter, from “GSP” to “GSO.” In my defense, an “O” looks somewhat like a “P.” Give me credit for this.
Without that second look at my boarding pass, I know exactly what would have happened. I would have checked the departure boards in Atlanta and wandered to the gate for the flight to Greenville-Spartanburg.
I would have stayed there until it was too late for my Greensboro flight, then attempted to board a flight to Greenville-Spartanburg with the wrong ticket. While I likely would have made it to Winston-Salem at some point, my life would have been chaotic for the next eight or more hours.
All because of one letter and not paying attention to details.
What does this have to do with a 1st Faith? A lot.
If we want the faith of those who first followed Jesus, we can’t gloss over the details of what they believed and say, “Well, we’re close enough.”
When it comes to an effective faith, “close enough” doesn’t count. We’ve had more than 2,000 years to live out what Jesus originally taught the twelve. In that time, we’ve made alterations, probably more than we think.
How else to explain a gazillion denominations and sects?
The point? The simpler we make our faith, the less chance we miss a letter and mess it up. Heck, I blew it on three letters; imagine what we can do with theology.
For instance, let’s not miss what the first followers said about Jesus. Peter called Jesus, “The Christ, the son of the living God.”
“Christ,” as we know, means “messiah” or “anointed one.” It’s simple stuff. God put his hand on Jesus and thus, Jesus is the promised one of Israel. And for the rest of us schlubs, Jesus is the man God chose to save the world. This isn’t difficult.
Nor is it difficult to see Jesus as the son of God. It’s in the New Testament 40+ times.
The question is, “Is this enough?” For those who first followed, it was. Sure, he was also called “master,” “teacher,” “rabbi” and other names, and Jesus called himself the “son of man” more than 70 times.
But at it’s core, understanding Jesus as the son of God and the Christ is plenty. If we want a 1st Faith, we don’t need more.
But if we move off of these descriptions–even just a little–we can miss the power of their faith.
I almost missed Winston-Salem by misreading one letter in a three-letter airport code. In the big scheme of things, this is frustrating but not a life-changer. But if I miss a 1st Faith–even by the smallest margin–I’m missing out on a great opportunity.
I need to seek what those first followers sought, keep looking for what they thought was important, and continue on a quest to live the type of life they lived.
And I don’t want to miss a thing along the way.