Monday, August 17, 2020

God's Unveiled Glory

God is on a journey with his children. He designed us to be empowered by living in His presence. Unfortunately, sin and selfishness so marred the relationship that His Glory, which is meant to give us our light and life, can traumatise us.

As refugees in the desert, God’s children asked Moses to put a veil over his face. He’d been with God. He was radiant. Just looking at him hurt their eyes. So, he did. And he would only lift the veil when he went into God’s presence for council and when he spoke on God’s behalf to the people.

As residents in Israel, God’s children kept God behind a veil. The holy of holies was behind a layered curtain said to be as thick as a man’s hand. God’s presence radiated there, behind the curtain above the Ark of the Covenant. The High Priest alone passed beyond that curtain just once a year.

When Jesus died, that veil tore from top to bottom. No longer would Moses walk out, veil lifted, with new Glory to reveal. No longer would the High Priest make the yearly journey into God’s presence. Jesus, in his life and death, revealed God’s glory. And, as it was finished on the cross, the veil was lifted and God’s Glory filled the Earth.

Now, the apostle Paul says, the only spiritual veils, after the cross, are worn by people who do not want to see God’s Glory. Today, God’s children worship, pray, serve and sing, in His presence, soaking it up. Then they walk into the world with unveiled faces and radiate His love to everyone. 

I love road trips. I’ve driven from Melbourne to Yowah many times. Yowah is an outback mining town in south-west Queensland. It takes 15 hours of non-stop driving to get there from here. My Dad likes to mine for opal and I like to visit him. The journey is always richer with one of the kids tagging along.

Factoring in a few stops for meals, stretching and petrol, it’s good to leave home mid-afternoon.

At the start of the road trip the kids are always busy. They look out the windows and play games with licence plate numbers and road signs. Can you get from A to Z first? Then you play “I spy with my little eye.” 

As day turns into evening the screens come on. As they watch or play something, you listen to an audiobook. When their headphones come off, you turn off the stereo and chat. The little one has relaxed into the journey. The conversation wanders through whatever topics come up.

Then darkness comes. And they fall asleep. You relax into a chat with God. Thanks for the good road. Thanks for my family. Thanks for safety. Thanks for loving us. The conversation ebbs and flows through the night. It moves from tonight’s 1400km journey to the lifetime journey He is leading you on. Thanks for this life. Thanks for the future. What’s next, Lord?

As morning comes in outback Australia, you’re driving through a deep mist that hugs the red dirt and low scrub. Every new photon of white light refracts in one of the billions of droplets of dissipated water. Slowly the sun peaks over the horizon and the white foggy fields turn radiant gold.

“Oh Wow!” You whisper. Your voice interrupts the sleepy silence.

Little one wakes up in the backseat and sits up. She stretches and yawns, “What, Dad?”

“Just look,” you say.

She looks - into the sunrise. Big red kangaroos bound through the golden fog filled fields. Leaping toward the sun.

“Wow.” She says, mesmerised. “That is so beautiful!”

“It really is,” you say.

You both stare into the sunrise as the sun silently changes from a blip to a bubble to a ball. Darkness is gone. The world is lit.

Then she asks her favourite question, “But why, Dad?”

You look into the mirror and see her little face, bathed in the sun’s light. She’s radiant. “What dear?”

“Why?” She repeats. “WHY is it so beautiful?”

“Because, little one,” you say pausing to look at her in the mirror, “Because God LOVES US all, so very much.”

She takes the answer silently, sits back into her seat and looks out the side window. The veil of mist has lifted and a mob of kangaroos stand like sentinels. They each stretch tall, facing the sun – their faces aglow.

“He really does, doesn’t He?” she whispers.

“He loves US ALL, so very much.” 

Friday, August 14, 2020

The Servant Heart of God

A oneliner in an online Bible-study lecture just made me laugh. And then, it got me thinking.

The lecture was about how the God of the Old Testament seems so angry and violent and scary. And yet in the New Testament, when Jesus comes, he is none of those things. Jesus claimed to be God. And yet, Jesus was gentle and kind and served people with love. The lecturer said, "What happened to the God of the Old Testament between Malachi and Matthew? Did he give his heart to Jesus or something?"

Well, yes. Yes, Jesus does have God’s heart.
But he had it long long before Malachi. Like forever long.
Jesus has always been at the heart of God.

Jesus came to Earth to completely reveal the character of God. In fact, he said, “If you have seen me, you've seen the Father.” So what is God like? Well, Jesus cared for the poor, fed the hungry and healed the broken.

God was not updated in Jesus. Our understanding of God was updated.

Before Jesus visited, It was like the God Channel had really poor reception on Planet Earth. No matter where you stood in the room or how you adjusted things, the picture was mostly snow with a shadowy image way off in the background. The picture was poor and the sound was either way too loud or non-existent. The problem wasn’t with God, it was with us. Our spiritual aerial was mucked up with sin. The only way to fix the situation was for God to do something – in person.

So God came down and dwelt among us. He lived next door. He wore our clothes, spoke our language and showed us what he looks like. In his life and his death, Jesus cleared up the misconceptions of God. In his life, he modelled the servant heart of God. And in his death, he installed a permanent pole-top signal booster for the God Channel. Now, God comes through picture perfect – in Jesus.

Jesus lived a cross shaped life and died a cross shaped death. He expected his presence to tune us in –perfectly – to God. When the disciples asked Jesus to show God to them, He said, “How long have I been with you and you still ask me to show you the Father?” Every word. Every deed. Everything he was – was God.

Jesus’ death on a cross was the ultimate act of service that God could do for his lost children on planet Earth. The cross installed on Earth a clear image of the Father in Heaven. We get God now – loud and clear – anytime we come to the cross. The cross reveals the God who serves and calls us to be a people who serve.

Service saves people. Service shapes people.

I just came home from the hospital last night. I had a cancerous tumour removed from my right kidney. One night, the nurse asked me what the book I was reading was about. I told her it was about Christians in the Early Church and how they changed the world. She said, “Wow! So how did they do it?”

“By being like you!” I smiled and continued, “The first Christians were focused on service – they cared for the sick, they looked after the unlovely, they fed people who needed food.” I paused and smiled at her, “True followers of Jesus are like nurses.”

“I didn’t know that,” She said quietly.

“Most people don’t.” I said, “Thank you for changing my world!”

She smiled and said, “You’re welcome!”

Serving other people, day in and day out, changes you. I call nurses “God’s undercover angels” because they really are.

Now, it’s your turn. Look to the cross. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Rediscover the servant heart of God.

Then go change the world!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...