Rev. Janet Doyle
Elmer Presbyterian Church
February 27, 2022
Scripture: Daniel 3: 8-30, Luke 9: 28-36
Sermon: Passive or Active
Cornelius Drebbel was born in 1572 in Holland. Drebbel is credited with creating and improving both the thermometer and the thermostat. Today, you can thank this Dutch man for giving us these two great inventions.
Let’s begin by picturing a thermometer. It can be a large or small thermometer because its size doesn’t matter. It can be one that is designed to be inside the house or outside. It can be a medical thermometer designed to see if we have a fever or not. It can even be one that we use while we cook to make sure that everything is cooked enough.
Now a thermometer is naturally PASSIVE. Thermometers do not set the temperature. They merely reflect and register the temperature. They don’t cause it to become warmer or colder. Instead, they simply measure the environment in which they find themselves. The outside thermometers go either up or down depending on the current climate conditions. Soon, we are hoping to have warmer rising temperatures for Spring. So, the thermometer simply reflects what is going on around them in the environment. We don’t expect thermometers to be active. That isn’t their job. They weren’t designed to be active.
A thermometer mimics its environment and doesn’t have the inward ability to change its environment. It was designed to be passive and not a change agent.
On the other hand a thermostat hangs on our walls and it controls our air conditioners and heaters. The thermostat has been designed to create the right temperature. It has been designed to be ACTIVE. It creates change; it gets involved. They control the environment instead of allowing the environment to control them.
For example, if the room is too hot, you can set the thermostat at a certain temperature and in a few minutes the room will begin to cool off. If you want the room to get hotter, then you set the thermostat higher and up goes the temperature.
When we think of our life as Christians, are we Thermometer Christians or Thermostat Christians? The Lord desires us to be Thermostat Christians; active Christians, not passive.
While a thermometer is wonderful to have around, it is not the way the Holy Spirit wants us to live today. The Holy Spirit does not want us to simply reflect our surroundings. The Holy Spirit does not want us to live passive lives that mimic those around us.
Satan loves it when a disciple of Jesus decides to live like a thermometer. He wants us to just reflect the surroundings we are in at that moment in time and not be an agent of active change for the future.
We are like chameleons that blend into the environment and adapt to survive. The Thermometer Christian doesn’t want to stand out. Satan loves it when we get all intertwined with the ways of the world and we allow the philosophies of the world to rule our thinking and not the Words of our Lord. The Apostle Peter started out as a Thermometer Christian when he denied knowing Jesus three times, in the Courtyard, and ended up a Thermostat Christian as he told others about Jesus and how Jesus changed his life.
A Thermostat Christian has been designed to create the right temperature. Thermostat Christians are active change agents. They get involved. They control the environment instead of allowing the environment to control them.
When a Thermostat Christian finds themselves in an environment that is evil, they begin to glow with the light of Christ. As Thermostat Christians, we need to pray for peace and allow the Holy Spirit to bring peace through us. We become a Holy Spirit agent of change. We need to let the Holy Spirit turn up our thermostat of love, grace, and mercy and in a few minutes we have begun to be active agents of change. People begin to sense the flow of the Holy Spirit in our actions and decisions. People begin to feel that they are in the presence of someone filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
The thermostat doesn’t work on its own it needs to be connected to the heater or air conditioner. We are called to be connected to the Holy Spirit to be ACTIVELY engaged with our world, being agents of change. It is amazing to watch the Lord work in our lives and in the life of our church when we are connected to the Holy Spirit.
In Daniel chapter three, we find our story about Shadrach, Meshach an Abed-nego. They are God’s Thermostats in Babylon. We find them among a group of thermometers. King Nebuchandnezzar had set up a 90-foot image of gold and commanded all the people to bow down to it once the music started. All the thermometers reflected what the King ordered and obeyed his command.
Everyone knelt down except Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. They would not go with the crowd even when King Nebuchadnezzar threatened the death penalty. Each one of them was thrown into the fiery furnace where the temperature said it was “deathly hot,” but walking right with them in the furnace was the angel of the Lord, and they walked around in the cool of the Lord’s protection. These three men were thermostats of change with an active faith. They were willing to die and not go along with what was wrong.
An active faith says that we are going to totally trust God even if it means that we might be laughed at, lose a job, lose our family or lose our life. An active faith honors and pleases God.
An active faith will stand when everything else begins to crumble. An active faith will hang on when everybody else wants to let go. An active faith will trust when those around you begin to doubt. An active faith will be calm when everyone else is chaotic. An active faith will give you strength in times of weakness. An active faith can bring stability to unstable situations. An active faith can make unmanageable things manageable. An active faith believes that all things are possible through Christ. An active faith believes that, what God has promised, he will fulfill. An active faith believes that God can calm the storms in our lives.
Active faith releases God’s power. In Hebrew 11:6, we know that without faith it is impossible to please God. God looks at the heart, and what he looks for is faith, genuine faith that comes from the heart. That is what makes you a Thermostat Christian.
The same faith that saves us is the faith that carries us from day to day as we journey with our Savior. We are saved by faith, we walk by faith, rejoice by faith, serve by faith, love by faith, sacrifice by faith, pray by faith, worship by faith and we obey the Holy Spirit by faith.
As long as we live in this world we will need faith. Faith believes what others do not see. Faith is not a feeling but a conscious choice to believe what God said. Faith acts even in the face of doubt and opposition.
Philip Yancey, Christian author, writes, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” By faith we believe in advance those things that make no sense now but one day will complete the picture because we will view them in reverse.
The world says, “Seeing is believing.” God says, “Believing is seeing.” We believe, therefore we see.
We read at the end of the scripture lesson today from Daniel 3: 24-30 that Nebuchadnezzar cried out in amazement, “Praise be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who put their trust in him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way.”
Their active faith had been challenged by the king’s decree. Their faith was tested in the fire of the furnace, and now their thermostat faith came out of the furnace without even the smell of smoke on their clothes.
Today we also celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord, remembering that Jesus was up on the mountain with three disciples Peter, James and John, and Moses and Elijah appeared and suddenly Jesus’ appearance changed and he became dazzlingly bright and his face shone like the sun. This was a glimpse of his heavenly glory and what was going to happen soon on the way to the cross. Jesus came as one who changes; changes people’s lives and changes the way we think.
Jesus was a thermostat –actively creating change in the world.
Jesus wants us to have an ACTIVE FAITH not a PASSIVE FAITH.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent lasts for 40 days as we Journey to Jerusalem with Jesus.
This Lent allow the Holy Spirit to fill your heart, your mind and your soul with an ACTIVE FAITH.
Stand strong in your faith and be an agent of change in our world.
Our world and the Church Universal doesn’t need more thermometers, it needs thermostats to make changes in our churches, our homes, our schools, our work places, our communities, our country and the world.
Today, will you allow Jesus to transform you into a Spiritual Thermostat?