Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sight Unseen

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”  Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. – John 14:22-24

Everybody wants things set right.  It hasn’t happened because our concepts of right have some variation.  The question the disciple Judas asked is really a very reasonable one.  Lord, You’ve been talking about the kingdom being at hand, about going away and coming back, and we have accepted that You are the Anointed One and all that, how is this supposed to happen if we are the only ones who see You?  How is it we will see You and the rest of the world won’t?  Am I missing something here?

We could get rid of all the unbelievers, by force if necessary.  That’s the solution of Islam and the various government religions – fascism, socialism, communism, et al.  Or, all believers could be whisked away to a secret and secure enclave, a place of physical separation from the world.  That seems to be the preferred solution for much of Christianity throughout history.  But Jesus has a different answer, an answer that turns our usual way of thinking on its head:  love God.  If you love God, you will follow His word, living and acting according to it.  Be in the world of necessity, accepting, as much as possible, the quirks and foibles and failures of the people around you while you work on making yourself a temple in whom the Lord can abide.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  When our hearts are pure and separated to God, the Lord will manifest Himself to us. 

Back in 2 Kings, chapter 6, we read that the prophet Elisha was so in tune with God that he knew when the Syrian king was laying ambushes and warned the king of Israel against these things.  The king of Syrian thought he had a spy in his court in the pay of Israel.  When he was told that it was instead the work of the prophet, he sent an army to capture Elisha.  A more thoughtful man might have reasoned that if the prophet knew about all of his troop movements it might be a little tough to catch him by surprise.  Whether Elisha was surprised or not, the Bible does not say, but it does tell us that he wasn’t too worried when the Syrian forces showed up.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

The vast army of the Lord was there.  Elisha saw these angelic agents and communicated with the Lord all the time.  The servant was walking around in the midst of all this great and glorious host, and all he saw was the water bucket, the bread pan, and the dung heap.  By God’s grace, this man caught a glimpse of the reality in which he moved all the time but to which he was blinded by the mundane and material. 

The Syrians are out there – this might be especially true for us today as we learn that America warships are headed for the Middle East to possibly intervene in the current civil war in Syria.  The threats to us may appear overwhelming and are certainly undeniable.  Notice that Elisha did not say that there was no enemy army surrounding them.  The circumstances we face from disease to family conflicts, from financial concerns to stress on the job, whatever it may be -- those threats are real.  But even more real is Christ Jesus who stands between us and the evil circumstances, awaiting only our purity of heart, our obedient love to open our eyes to His glorious presence. 


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That is easily one of my favorite Bible stories.
Too many times, I tend to get ina hunker down survival mode and forget what Elisha knew so well.

So I'mmighty glad I stopped by today. Z:^)

mushroom said...

I'm glad you stopped by, too, Ben. Thanks.

robinstarfish said...

Seconding Ben's motion.

mushroom said...

Thanks, Robin.

Rick said...

Fine post. Lately everything reminds of when Mary Listens while Martha Labors. Easy to lose track of the mission while trying to get there.
Ever work so hard on a project that you don't notice you've finished?

mushroom said...

Yes, that can happen. There's always something that is going to pull at us, probably, if we let it. Kind of like Jesus saying that the poor will always be with us. Help them out, but don't confuse that with eradicating poverty.

Rick said...