In Groundhog We Trust
by Tim Hall
A long-standing tradition urges us to examine our professions.
We might as well get ready for the reports. On February 2, just as in years past, there will be news reports from Punxsutawney, PA.
This town of just over 6,000 residents attracts thousands for the annual ritual of the groundhog. Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his burrow on that date. The nation will wait anxiously to see if Phil sees his shadow.
The tradition began in this Pennsylvania town in 1886, but goes deeper in time in Europe. If the groundhog sees his shadow, we are told, he will be frightened into returning to his burrow and another six weeks of winter weather will ensue.
Everyone hopes Phil doesn’t see his shadow!
Does anyone today really believe this method of climatology? Do we put away our winter clothes if we hear that Phil didn’t see his shadow? Or is it just good-natured fun that doesn’t affect any of our decisions?
Sadly, many approach their religion in much the same way. Though they profess belief that Jesus emerged from his grave long ago, nothing really changes in their lives as a result of that belief.
Their values, their behavior, their speech — they’re all about the same as anyone else’s.
Paul wrote about how our lives should change: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
Because Jesus rose, we will all be raised one day. And then what? That’s the point at which our faith begins to show.
Peter was more direct: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 2:11).
The fact that Jesus rose from the grave and will return to earth some day should affect the way we live in the meantime.
Punxsutawney Phil is based on nothing more than fables. Our religion in Christ is not based on fables. “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
Peter knew his faith was based on reality. So is ours if we follow the apostles’ doctrine.
We’ll all chuckle and wink knowingly when we hear the report from Pennsylvania next week. Then we’ll go on with our lives as if nothing happened. May that never be the case with the way we view Jesus’ resurrection!