I have a confession. I added this picture to remind myself not to complain that it is extremely hot out today! Even so, I'm sitting here in my relatively cool house, with a glass of iced coffee, writing a blog post. Things are good. On the day I took the picture of my car in the snow, I had no where I needed to be, so having the car buried was just kind of funny. Things were good then, also. But as I look at the world around me, things are not so good. If you watch the news, you see little but destruction and depravity. Why? Where have we gone wrong?
Reverend Singleton pointed out today that we have lost the ability to see God. Part of the scripture was taken from Romans 1:18-25. Please go to the passage and read it for yourself, but the gist of it is that God has revealed himself to us, but we have chosen to ignore him. Because of this, he has let us live the way we want to. Unfortunately, we have been led astray. Romans 1:25 says "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie.'
The verse goes on to talk about idols, or things we worship instead of God. Now, we may not have statues of animals in our houses that we bow down to, but we do have idols. Anything that takes our time and energy can be an idol if we consider it more important than God. Money, our jobs, entertainment, our churches, even our families can become idols in our lives. Jesus said “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)." Does this mean we should not love our families? No, of course not, but it does mean that they cannot become more important than God in our lives.
Now back to the problem of not being able to see God. Romans 2:13-15 says: "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)" Have you ever met someone who, without being religious at all, acts more loving than most religious people you know? Those people, even if they don't acknowledge it, have seen the light of God inside themselves. The law is "written on their hearts." They are obeying it without having ever heard it.
So where does this leave us? First of all, know that salvation cannot be earned. It is free. Also, following the law will not save you by itself. However, if you follow God, who has placed his law in your heart, he will lead you to salvation.
Those of us who know God have to get out of our comfortable churches and do what we were told to do. The whole world stands guilty before God, and people are dying because they've been sold a lie. It does no good for us to be a mirror, showing people the dirt on their faces. Mirrors can't clean off the dirt. We're holding up laws and doctrines as if they were soap, when they are really just mirrors. And small, broken ones at that.
John 13:1-17 has a strange story about Jesus washing his disciples' feet. In verse 8, Jesus says "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." This was said to Peter, who was a bit offended that Jesus, his esteemed teacher, was taking the part of a servant. Verse 15 says "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." This is what it takes to show people Jesus. Not showing them how bad they are, but showing them how good Jesus is! We are to serve. Not to preach, though there are some who are called to this, and we should pray for them! Certainly not to condemn. John 3:17 says: " For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." Our job is to lead others to the Son, who can save them. To lead them back to the light that is already within them. To open their spiritual eyes.
But first, we have to have our own eyes opened. We can't shine light that has been dimmed by our idols. We have to remove the junk first. I'd like to go back to my snow-covered car. That car was just as sound, mechanically, with all the snow on it than it was before. But with all the snow, we couldn't use it. We could barely even see it! If, like the car, we are covered with all of our worldly "idols", we can be of no use to God. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)"