Thursday, December 10, 2015

Do you want to SEE God this Christmas?


Before the days of radio and later of television, war news was hard to get. Unless one of the local boys came home on leave, it was hard to learn anything definite. That is just like our knowledge of God. God is the most important individual, the One who gives our lives purpose, on whom we depend for everything, but we don't know how to know Him. He doesn't have a television show. His number isn't in the phone book, and certain professors have circulated the rumor that He is dead.  Reason, imagination, and insight bring us no closer.  When it comes to knowing God, we are like blind men.

 Now blind men can know some things by touching them.  You can tell whether an object is moving or still, hot or cold, rough or smooth, but you can't tell what color it is, or even what that means.  If it is small you can touch it all.  If it's big, you can only touch one part at a time.  We are limited that way in trying to know God.  We know Somebody put all of this here, Somebody made the rules, and apparently this Somebody has an interest in our affairs, but we cannot tell whether or not He is trying to help us.  He might be toying with us, or passively watching, or perhaps He's bored with us.  As amusing as it is to speculate about such things, all the guesses in the world will not lead us to God.  There are two reasons for this.  First, we are finite, and therefore incapable of comprehending the infinite God.  Second, we are misled by being under the Law.  Everyone is born with a disposition of the heart which we call the opinion of the Law.  It is a kind of sense that God approves of the good and is angry at the evil.  That opinion stands like a thick curtain between every sinner and God.  No one can break through it.  Even the Bible is no help.  If you read it with your native disposition you will never find anything in it but the Law.  Only the Key, Jesus, can open our eyes. Without Him we might learn about God, but we will never know God.

A problem, you say?  Yes, but nothing God can't handle.  He revealed Himself to people who could not conceive of Him.  It's the kind of problem missionaries have when they meet a tribe to whom the term "God" means a mountain or a tree.  When the missionary tells them that God is merciful and forgiving, they are confused because they can't see how a mountain can be merciful, or a tree forgive anything.  So the missionary first has to teach them that God is a Person.  All around us there are people with a similar problem.  They know God isn't a tree, but their hopes and fears are connected to someone named Santa Claus.  Once they stop believing in Santa Claus, they stop believing in anything.  Why should they hold themselves accountable if nobody is making a list of who's naughty and nice?  How brief and desperate life must seem to such people!

God revealed Himself by becoming a man.  This man was the Word, a Person, the Baby of Christmas, the Lord Himself, the Messiah.  Here we see the active Word, the Word made flesh, the Word who approached us because we were too blind to approach Him.  In Him, God is man.  So come, meet the Man.  He revealed to us all we need to believe in Him, and to have eternal life with Him.   He taught us of the kingdom of God, of our need to be born again by water and the Spirit, of His power even over death - for it was He who raised Lazarus.  In fact, He assures us that God's chief purpose is to make us alive to Him.  Jesus was the active Word, living out the ways of God, healing the sick, comforting the troubled, forgiving the sinners, inviting tax collectors to His house for supper, washing the feet of His twelve disciples, even though He knew what one of them was going to do.  They all learned from this experience, remembered it, and wrote it down so that we could learn from it as well.  Jesus loved sinners.  He loved His own enemies.  In time the active Word became the passive Word, the patient, suffering Word.  The crucified and risen Word.  Whether active or passive, we beheld His glory - full of grace and truth.

We know how to know a man, so come, meet the Man. We can approach a man, so approach the Word made flesh. Jesus said, He who has seen Me has seen the Father. St. Paul calls Him the image of the invisible God. How can anything invisible have an image? By becoming man.  The closer we get to Him, the better we can see God.  We can see Jesus with open arms saying Come to me, you who are burdened and troubled, I will give you rest.  St. John bids us to understand, the man with the open arms is God.

In Jesus we have the privilege of seeing God. That does not mean that we know all about Him.  Even with the vision which is His gift, we still see through a glass darkly.  Our native desire for Law makes the picture so dark, but we see a Person, that much is certain.  We see the Creator of all, and Reconciler of all.  Our reason finds no fault with this.  God's revelation is perfectly reasonable. What finds fault is the opinion of the Law. That always wants to make us doubt that God loves us. That is the little voice that asks, Could you possibly be wrong?  Could God really work by the Law rather than by forgiveness?  The answer to that is No!  We definitely cannot be wrong about this!  The Incarnate Word did not even stop at death to reconcile His enemies to Himself, meaning you and me.  Anyone who thinks he can be justified by the Law either doesn't know the Law or doesn't know himself, or perhaps doesn't want to admit what he does know, but with Jesus, there is grace and truth.  You never again have to worry about your sins.  He became a man to get to know you, to deliver you, and to show you that it's all true.  All thanks to God who gives us Himself in the Word. AMEN.

~Rev. Lloyd E. Gross

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