John Maxwell tells a story about a young girl whose father wanted to mentor and encourage her as she went through several of life’s challenges. The father put three pots of water on top of a stove and brought each to a boiling point. In one pot, he put a couple of eggs. In another, he placed some carrots and in the last pot, he poured in some ground coffee.
In just a few minutes, the father’s experiment was complete, and he discussed the outcome with his daughter. First, he explained that the boiling water represented life’s challenges. While the water was the same in each pot, the results were drastically different. The eggs, affected by the boiling water, turned hard. The carrots turned soft. In the pot with the ground coffee, the physical chemistry of the water was affected!
His point was this. Life’s challenges can make you hard (like the eggs); they can make you soft (like the carrots); or better yet (like the coffee), you can be the influencer instead of being the one who is influenced by life (Romans 12:2).
Jesus declared in Matthew 15, “You are the salt of the earth and you are the light of the world.” He was clear that salt loses its worth if it is not used to change, preserve, or add flavor, and that a light would never be put under a bushel but rather on top of a lampstand, so as to maximize its effectiveness!
Over his lifetime, Jesus encountered several “pots of boiling water,” none of which embittered or broke Him. Instead, He was so purposed in the mission given Him by the Father that He radically influenced and changed both the people and the culture around Him, leaving a very clear message to those that would follow Him: “Even as the Father hath sent me, so send I you!” The early followers of Christ were known as people “of the Way,” because they demonstrated remarkable character in the face of overwhelming odds.
In the third century, St. Cyprian wrote to a friend named Donatus:
“This seems a cheerful world, Donatus, when I view it
From this fair garden… but if I climbed some great mountain
And looked out… you know very well what I would see;
Brigands on the high road, pirates on the seas, in the
Amphitheaters, men murdered to please applauding crowds…
“Yet in the midst of it, I have found a quiet and holy people…
They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have
Overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians!”
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)