Conrad Gempf: 5th Sparrow

February 2001
Angels made redundant (nearly)
Previous 5th Sparrows

Comment on this column IMAGINE BUYING a computer magazine with a DVD-ROM taped to the cover. Rush home, unwrap, pop it into your new Titanium PowerBook.

Only one file on the whole disk... Up comes this drop-dead gorgeous hi-rez film... words spinning into view saying... is it? Yup, it says: "Read the attached magazine". End of film.

Kind of a waste?

It's just like Acts 10. The end of the story is the conversion of Cornelius the Roman soldier. Who gets to deliver the content of the gospel?

Candidate number 1: Angel of God. Tall, very shiny, kinda scary, with huge wings (artist's conception). Cornelius obviously will do and believe anything he says.

Candidate number 2: Simon Peter. Ordinary human being. Medium height, build, ex-fisherman, Galilean. No wings to speak of. Cornelius unlikely to look at him twice.

The angel arrives on the scene before Peter. But all he'll say is "go get Peter". Why not cut out the middle human and let the angel do the persuading? What kind of sense does it make to give Peter the main gig and to book the angel as a warm-up act?

Yet it's the way that God works. Say he's got hosts of angels to do anything he asks. Say most, if not all of them, are smarter and stronger and more impressive than you or Peter are. But he wants us to be involved. He wants us to do the business.

It's probably not how we'd run things if we were in charge. Thank God we're not. Meanwhile, get on with it. No angels visible at the moment? That's your cue.

Dr Conrad Gempf is a lecturer in New Testament at London Bible College. He also writes for and edits the monthly webzine there.

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