This concept is part of a big motivational campaign. If you work in education you’ve probably seen the movie and all the merchandise. I hear it’s very big in the corporate world as well. But, in case you haven’t heard it, here it is as explained by the guy who wrote the book and is now making a bundle on merchandising:
“At 211 degrees, water is hot.
At 212 degrees, it boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And with steam, you can power a train.
“One degree. Applying one extra degree of temperature to water means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine – a beautifully uncomplicated metaphor that ideally should feed our every endeavor – consistently pushing us to make the extra effort in every task, action and effort we undertake. Two-twelve serves as a forceful drill sergeant with its motivating and focused message while adhering to a scientific law – a natural law. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences.”1
I don’t know about you, but the first time I heard the presentation of this concept, I had a real “duh” moment. It was like I knew it, but I never really thought about the science of it and the difference between boiling and not boiling. 211 degrees is a hot bowl of soup, but 212 degrees is real power!
So as I read through all this stuff, I noticed something very important—the difference between just hot and boiling comes from within each individual. Hmm… Anybody see a problem? Yeah, me too.
A person with a really good idea suddenly dives off in the wrong direction. You and I both know that the final degree does not reside in any of us. We will forever be bowls of soup—good, but innocuous. That 212th degree can only come from one place—the Holy Spirit.
When we look at the intensity of the disciples, we can see the moment they crossed the line. In the upper room, at Pentecost, the disciples became Spirit-driven. The power spilled out of them just like steam out of a locomotive. From that moment on, the people who were filled with the spirit had one goal—to tell people about Jesus.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be consumed with preaching the truth about Jesus wherever we go? You wouldn’t worry if it made some people uncomfortable, or even angry. You’d tell anybody who would listen that Jesus loved them and died to pay the penalty for sin. Nothing else would matter.
So, where are all the 212-degree Christians today? Are you a 212-degree Christian? Am I? How would we know? What does a 212-degree Christian look like? Can you tell just by looking?
“The same intensity of desire to save sinners that marked the life of the Saviour marks the life of His true follower.” (E.G. White, Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 10. (1902))
It looks so easy on paper, doesn’t it? But in practice it’s not so simple. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s even a little bit scary. It conjures up some disturbing images. Think about it. What happened to all those folk who lived with that kind of intensity and focus? Not many of them lived to be old. None of them lived safe, comfortable lives. That’s hard to think about, isn’t it?
And that’s one of the main differences between the secular way of thinking about 212 and the Christian’s way of thinking about it. Secularly, when you add the extra effort, your life just gets better and better. But for a Christian, accepting the mission of telling as many people as possible the truth about Jesus can be an uncomfortable, even dangerous, proposition. It takes the analogy of steam quite literally. Hot water can be comforting and soothing, but when it begins to boil, it not only becomes powerful, it becomes dangerous.
“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’ … But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’” John 12:23-28, 32.
- Samuel L. Parker, 212: The Extra Degree, WalkTheTalk.com ↩