Posts Tagged With: searching

The God Who ‘Sticks His Neck Out’

There was once a man who went for a walk in the fields near his home in the early springtime. As he began to make his way upon familiar paths, he eventually came up to a pond that he had passed by many times on his previous sojourns.

The winter had not been a heavy one and the pond was shallow enough for the man to see many rocks sticking partway out of the pond; some round, some more rough and angular.

The man decided to venture a little closer to the pond’s edge and noted that one of the rounder rocks in the water had a different sheen on it than the other ones. Not having the greatest vision, the man put on his glasses and was soon able to confirm that the rock indeed looked different from the others in the pond. Though mildly curious, he concluded nothing further and was certainly not about to waste his time getting his feet wet in order to determine why this particular rock was different.

He was about to tread up the hill away from the pond to resume his strolling through the fields when suddenly the sun came out from behind the clouds and the rock that he thought was an inert hunk of rounded stone moved!

A head, followed by a long neck slowly began to extend itself outward from one end of the semi-circular ‘rock’, eventually stretching its way out and above the surface of the pond and into the blazing light of day.

The man laughed at himself and said, “I should have known! That was no rock, it was a turtle all along! I guess if I’d made the effort to wade near the pond’s edge the creature might have stirred and I’d have known it was a turtle sooner. Heck, I could have picked up one of the long sticks that lay along the banks of the pond and reached out to prod the ‘rock’. Then I would certainly have known it was not a rock at all.”

Only the man didn’t.

However, the turtle did what turtles do: at just the opportune moment, the creature made his move – stretching out his head with eyes a’blinking – in order to bask in, absorb and reflect the light of the life-giving sun. Through this one act, the turtle revealed his true identity as a living being to a man who might otherwise have gone on his way thinking that he had simply seen a slightly different looking rock sticking out of a pond on a warm spring day.”

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, in one of his famous detective stories, once stated, “the world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes”. How true! We can often pass by a familiar object and not see any further significance in the object, other than the fact that it is there. A bit more investigation, if we’re interested enough, may reveal that the object we’ve thought as being one thing is in fact another thing entirely. Have you ever had a moment where it finally hit you that you’ve been seeing things wrong (or have maybe been oblivious to what’s directly in front of you)? That photograph you’ve walked by every day at the office, suddenly it’s, “Hey, that’s no photo, that’s a painting!” Or mom’s ‘fake’ plant in the corner of the living room – it turns out to be real (usually, right after you’ve accidentally ripped off one of its leaves in a careless moment). It’s times like these we realize that our perceived world is not always grounded in reality.

When it comes to our knowing what’s what regarding anything, we must agree that the goal of all humanity is to grow in knowledge in order to further benefit our existence and not to run on mere instincts. (When humanity does operate from primal or base desires, it often results successfully in filling up jail cells. Though correctional officers and police benefit from this via employment, no sane person would consider the situation utopian.) Growth in the area perception is one of those things that makes us truly human. With perception changes occurring as we mature, our creeds and philosophies are born and affect/frame our whole lives. However, there comes a point where we seem to settle in our ways and it’s at that stage where most of us are extremely disinterested in ‘re-perceiving’ our world or our views, religious or otherwise. We’ll look at things through the lens of our prejudices or from our set of perspectives and then comment on one issue or another (in attempts to find balance), often with tepid sayings like, “It’s all the same when you look at it,” or “To each his own,” or “A rose by any other name is still a rose”. But things are not all the same and there is an incredible amount one could learn about roses if they care to!

Is it possible your view of God is something like this? Maybe for years you’ve seen God in one way and one way only. Maybe you’ve always seen Him as an ‘amorphous blob’, having no definite shape, form or identity. Or maybe you view God as being like ‘the Force’ – a good or bad power as per George Lucas’ concept in Star Wars (and which was borrowed heavily from Eastern religions). Or conversely, you’ve always thought of God (or have been made to think of God) as the very opposite of ‘unknowable’ – that in fact, he’s very knowable: as an overarching, dominating being who arbitrarily picks and chooses who lives or dies, who’s saved or damned, and who is incapable of showing anything ‘humane’ or something akin to benevolent love to his creation? There are so many views of God that it would be next to impossible to list them all.

The only way we can become ‘unstuck’ regarding our view of God is through His Spirit (that personal extension of His very being) shining a light into our hearts so that we can clearly see that God is far more incredible, involved and interested than we think He is.  This applies to the unbelieving, the skeptical and even at times the religious-minded! If we’d only take (or make) time to wait for a ‘parting of the clouds’ – that moment when God reveals His true self to us – how much further along would we be? God has done this in the past for those who looked for truth and reality concerning Him and He can do this for us now. We so want God to ‘show up’ in this world and ‘do something’, but what if He already has (or still does) and some of us just haven’t grasped that?

Maybe you’re like Christ’s disciple, Philip, who in John’s Gospel, asks Jesus a ‘simple’ favour: “Show us (me and the rest of the disciples here) the Father (the God of Israel) and that will be enough for us!”

Jesus hands Philip ‘God on a platter’, so to speak, with the words, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

These words of Jesus should encourage some serious investigation, if in fact they’re true. For me, Jesus’ claims have spawned such investigation and thanks to superb authors such as Phillip Yancey, N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer and a host of others who’ve delved deeply into the Christian scriptures that hail back to the first century, I believe that one does get to know God by knowing Jesus Christ as he is revealed to us via the Gospels and other New Testament documents. But I also maintain that it had to have been God who shined down his light into my mind in order for me to ‘get it’ or understand the significance of Christ’s words and life. And if this Christ of the New Testament is truly true, as I believe He is, then He did more than just stick His neck out; He gave his very life-blood for the this broken world – for you – so that you could have a unique relationship with God unlike anything else this world and its many other religions offer.

For anyone willing to ‘stand on the banks’ and wait patiently, God will reveal Himself once His powerful light illuminates those priceless and pure realities that are found only in Him. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little prodding into things and step out into the mysterious waters of faith; that is true. But ultimately, it will be an intelligent, loving and amazing God who shows His true self to you and propels you into wanting to know more and more about Him with every passing day.

May that wonderful and superbly enlightening moment be yours soon, I pray,

© Flagrant Regard, 2012

“… the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Paul’s letter to the church at Colosse, Chapter 2, verse 17

“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Peter’s 1st letter, Chapter 1, verse 19

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Knowledge, Christianity, Creative Writing, Didactic, Illustration, Religion, Spiritual, Theology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If You’re Gonna Be A Walking Billboard For Jesus, Make Sure It’s Really Jesus You’re Representing

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/05/04/ns-jesus-shirt-student-school.html?cmp=rss

So in Nova Scotia, the battle is won: a Christian student has received the right to wear a ‘Christian T-shirt’ by the administration of the high school he attends. I’m sure all the Christian conservatives around the planet have collectively breathed their sighs of relief re the Province of Nova Scotia’s decision to maintain ‘constitutional integrity’ with respect to Canada’s freedom of religion ‘n such.

But being a ‘Classical Christian’ (something like a ‘conservative Christian’ but less embarrassing) I have to say that I am not all that happy about the attention this is receiving from the watching world.

In the initial story that broke over the wire, a young high school student named William Swimmer at Forest Heights Community School was banned from wearing a T-shirt that brazenly stated, “Life is WASTED without Jesus”. But after the ban received significant media attention, the ban-decision was overturned and now William can proudly display his message to the souls around and about him.

But with respect to the Christian faith, is it the right message?

When I was a teen I was the high school Christian weirdo who wore a baseball shirt with a transfer on the front that said, “I’m Hooked on Jesus”, and which was often accompanied by my hand-bedazzled jean jacket festooned with Christian sew-on patches along with the glitter-goo message, “Jesus Lives” on the back of it. It was a ‘positive affirmation’ message that elevated Jesus and my love for Him.

But this T-shirt message of Mr. Swimmer? Negative … really negative. In effect, here’s what the T-shirt’s words are proclaiming: “Your life is worth crap if you don’t have Jesus…you LOSER, you!” Wow.  That just ain’t playin’ nice in my books.  The message is condemning in nature and I can’t but help remember the words uttered by Christ immediately following John 3:16 (the faith statement ubiquitously placarded at sports events) “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17).

Can you imagine if Jesus had everyone sit down in groups on the side of a mountain hill and instead of His famous (and wonderfully tender) ‘Beatitudes’ he began instead to speak to the crowds with something like, “Okay, listen up! You are all spiritually retarded dolts who really don’t get me and are pretty much a waste of space!”  Isn’t that in effect what William Swimmer’s T-Shirt’s message is to his fellow students and teachers? If I were to ask Mr. Swimmer if he feels that way about his many peers – if they’re all meaningless sans the Saviour, would he look me in the eye and say, “Well, yeah!”. I pity that young man if that were how he felt, because then he is NOT receiving Christian education from a right-minded sort or source. (I personally believe that the young fellow hasn’t really explored the semantics of the T-shirt’s message all that much and probably is in no way insensitive and intolerant of everyone’s existences being lived outside of Christ.)

Jesus came to serve and to love those who were outcasts, who were searching for truth, who wanted to believe in a God who cared and were hoping for some relief from the burdens imposed on them by pernickety religious zealots. The Lord served by teaching in a thoughtful manner with respect to the general public but was often frighteningly visceral in his admonitions to those teachers of religion who should have known God and His expectations better (and, in fact, they did know better!).  And as for Jesus’ disciples he, once again, spoke to them very differently from the curious masses he attracted; often firmly and with deeper instruction or revelation those outside of the discipleship circle would not have been privy to (Matt 13:11).

If we’re going to be walking billboards for the Saviour, let’s display a message to the surrounding populace that shows the seekers and the unbelievers the qualities we Christians truly elevate and hold dear in our faith-journeys: hope, faith and that all-important love found in and at the heart of God. That is the Gospel. Whether it’s a sartorial mission statement found on a T-shirt transfer or via one’s code of conduct before the watching world, I believe it’s important how we represent the Who that is our life.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience,
so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ
may be ashamed of their slander.”
1 Peter 3:16-17

© Flagrant Regard, 2012


Categories: Apologetics, Bible Knowledge, Christianity, Didactic, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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