A favorite teacher of mine tells the story of traveling many years ago by bus across hot desert sands of the Middle East to the ruins of old Babylon. They began the trip before sunrise because the bus had no air conditioning. By the time things started heating up inside the bus with so many bodies he said, “The odor inside the bus became very thick, almost impenetrable!” I can imagine those passengers longed for a breath of fresh air from a purer atmosphere, can’t you?
There is an atmosphere in our world that is thick with the poison of selfishness, oppression, greed, lust and impurity of every kind but we don’t have to breathe it! The Lord has given us an atmosphere of “grace” to breathe if we choose to. Through faith and prayer, we access this atmosphere. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace [spiritual air] to help in time of need.” --Hebrews 4:16. The book Steps to Christ beautifully describes how accessible this atmosphere is: “In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.” p. 68.
No matter how toxic the atmosphere around us is, we can choose to breathe this Life-giving atmosphere! If we breathe in this atmosphere it will be the atmosphere that we breathe out. It is the atmosphere that will surround us. When that grace filled atmosphere, we are breathing is breathed out-- it makes others want to breathe it in too: “Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of its own--an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin. By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected.” Christ’s Object Lessons p. 339.
Perhaps the most important place to realize whether or not our life breathes out the atmosphere of grace is our own homes. Which of the attitudes listed above best describes the atmosphere that surrounds you? This atmosphere is the most powerful influence you have to advance or hinder the spread of the gospel.
“Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore. So, with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others in blessing or in cursing.”--Christ’s Object Lessons p. 340.
It is vital that we breathe of the atmosphere of grace all the time. This is why Paul would say “Pray [breathe spiritually] without ceasing.” 1Thessalonians 5:17. However just as there are periods of time in physical life we must breathe more deeply, surely, we need a period of deep breathing every day. If you want a life that exudes the atmosphere of grace, spend some time breathing deeply by daily Bible study meditation and prayer, then learn to keep breathing all day long and “[Your] life will breathe out a fragrance, and will reveal a divine power that will reach men's hearts.--The Ministry of Healing, p. 58.
If we will do this, we cannot help but fulfill our church vision statement: “Every member spreading the transformative message of Jesus' unfailing love.”