A man clad only in boxer shorts stopped a thief from stealing his car in southern Norway – by clinging on to the roof in a hair-raising ride at -17C. Police say the owner was left “pretty bloody” after the car crashed into a safety barrier on a bridge. A suspect has been taken into police custody. The owner, 25, woke up in Kristiansand in the early hours of Wednesday when he heard his car engine firing up. He raced out, grabbed a car door-handle and refused to let go. The thief tried to shake him off by driving into the snow, but the owner clambered on to the roof of his VW Passat and clung on to the bars as the car sped off. Local police chief Jan Nesland, quoted by Norway’s TV2 news, said the owner managed to hold on for several kilometres in a trip resembling something from a Hollywood action movie. The thief drove the car at up to 90km/h (56 mph), he said, but the owner managed to smash the back window with his knee and grappled with the thief before the car hit the safety barrier. “[Actor] Bruce Willis wouldn’t have managed that,” he said. “It’s not something we would advise people to do, but now that he’s done it – well, it’s an incredible story,” Mr Nesland said. It was one thing to smash a car window with your clothes on, but to cling on to its roof at high speed in your underwear in sub-zero temperatures was totally crazy, he added.
(When I shared this story during the sermon on Sunday, most of my people we’re like.. “For a passat, really???”) See the link below for the full article.
What do we purse with such passion and vigor that we would run out into the freezing cold in our undies just to hold on to? Maybe the better question is what is holding on to us, what have we given ourselves to that holds on to us with such passion that we would run out into the freezing cold in our undies to chase after?
Thinking about this there are very, very few things in my life that I would willingly do such a thing for. My reaction would have been closer to looking out the window, seeing my car drive away, calling the police and going to back to sleep! But I’m not that attached to my car; in this case It’s almost like that guy and his car were attached at the hip and his car was pulling him towards to it!
We could easily start off talking about this and asking the question what things do we love like this that we would chase after and are those things so important to do such a thing for, even more important than God? That’s probably the conversation you might be expecting, but we’ve also heard that conversation before, time and again. I’m more interested in asking what is it that we belong to and in belonging chase after and become like?
Think of it this way, we become what we love. Here is a tender example. I think all of us have known an older couple that has been together forever so much so that it seems like they are the same person. (I’m thinking of one particular couple in New Jersey who is just like this.) You sit down to have a conversation with them and it’s like talking to the same person, maybe one is the more quirky half and the other the more serious half, but it’s two halves of the same whole. They finish each other’s sentences, know exactly what the other person means and is going to do and in a very real sense can’t live without the other, as happens so often when one half passes away. This togetherness comes from promises made and given to each other and often in a much a greater sense from and to God in a Christian covenant marriage.
Now think of the more negative and hurtful examples of this same kind of union. Anger promises to give you satisfaction and retribution, justice and what is right but when someones gives themselves to anger they become what anger really is: hollow, selfish and mean. If you’ve known anyone that is married to anger it’s like the anger pulls them towards it as they give themselves to it to the point where anger owns them not the other way around. Or pornography, which use to be this male only kind of thing but was always hurtful to women and men alike and has now become so mainstream with these actors promoting their trade in the the New York Times that this demeaning way of life is becoming an expectation for so many, especially our children. Again, porn promises satisfaction, fame and gratification and it literally drags people around by the nose as they give away all that they have: family, self-respect, honor, career, home, faith for it and they become what it is: boring, monotonous, empty and without a trace of love.
In our reading today we hear the older mentor Pastor Paul pleading with his young student and pastor Timothy to pursue God. Before this passage is a long list of things that Paul reminds Timothy that people chase after and become including the love of money that in that pursuit people literally impale themselves on like being gored to death by an angry bull. But now Paul is urging his spiritual son to flee these things. To flee giving yourself away to all of these things that promise the world but only kill and leave you empty inside, flee them like you’re fleeing an angry bull that is chasing after you. But this fleeing isn’t just blind, random running away, but fleeing towards, pursuing the virtues of God.
Again, we could talk about chasing after righteousness and love but first we need to be reminded why. That is how Paul starts this off by telling his spiritual son who he is, “O man of God.” Another way of saying this is, “You belong to God.” God has already lavished all of His eternal promises of love, faithfulness, joy and blessing in this life and always and God keeps these promises because God is the source and being of all that is good, righteous, faithful and ultimately the source of and gives existence to love itself. All of these promises are found in the life, death and resurrection of our savior Jesus who gives to us and shows to us all that God is. In faith, in your baptism, God has taken hold of you and called you His own, you belong to God.
This is the why, you belong to God and God is pulling you to Him. Now is the question are we fleeing from God while he’s pulling us towards him and in doing that fleeing towards everything else that is not God: sin, anger, selfishness, emptiness, hopelessness and despair. Or in our faith are we running towards who we already belong to. This is what it looks like to run towards God while God is pulling you to Him: pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, fighting the good fight of faith. Running after these things even if it means running out in the freezing cold in our undies, no matter what our present physical conditions look like to purse the righteousness of God. In God pulling us to Him and in our faithful response pursuing God we are already in HIs eyes and become like He is and all He has to give, righteous, godly, faithful, loving, steadfast and gentle.
Who do you belong to? Are you pursuing the one who gives you life or you running away from God and pursuing that which leaves you empty. You belong to God, God is pulling you to all He is. Pursue God.