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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Has anyone ever seen God?


                                            FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

            "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal

             power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from

             what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Rom. 1:20 (NIV)

During last Wednesday evening's Bible study I asked the class if they had ever seen God. The question was asked in making a point regarding faith. Of course, in the actual sense of the question, the answer was no. But it caused me to recall a little story I once read, and since I didn't have time then to tell it, I thought I'd do so here for you to consider.

This little story I'm going to cite to you closely relates to the above passage from Romans. I feel that this passage, combined with the story, shows us that, even if some have no faith in The Almighty or claim to be atheists or agnostics, this very world and all therein, removes any excuse they have for their unbelief. See if you don't agree.

The story is really just a few thoughts, penned by an unknown author, and entitled:

                                                            "WHISPERS"

The man whispered, "God, speak to me" and a meadowlark sang.

    But, the man didn't hear.

So the man yelled, "God, speak to me" and the thunder rolled across the sky.

    But, the man didn't listen.

The man looked around and said, "God, let me see you" and a star shone brightly.

    But, the man did not see.

And the man shouted, "God, show me a miracle" and a life was born.

    But, the man did not notice.

So, the man cried out in despair, "Touch me God, and let me know you're here."

    Whereupon, God reached down and touched the man.

        But the man brushed the butterfly away and walked on.

Today's editorial is going to consist of two short lessons and this will begin the second. It too has a scriptural lead-in to this portion and it reads as follows.

                    "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be

                      sincere and without offence till the day of Christ." (Phil. 1:10)

The topic of our second lesson is related to the word "sincere" seen in the above verse. Sincere is a word synonymous with "genuine" or "pure or true." Something that, in reality, is what it claims to be. Not phony or deceitful.

I once read an article that explained the roots of the word we now know as "sincere." Reportedly it came from ancient Rome and even though I sometimes feel that old, I wasn't there to confirm the veracity of the article. In any event, it does provide us a good illustration for our lesson subject.

The origin of the word "sincere" is said to have come from Rome's marble quarries and the subsequent business of selling the marble. There were some unscrupulous stone dealers back then who made a practice of covering imperfections in the marble with wax. Because of this deceitful practice, the Roman government intervened and made it illegal to do this.

After addressing this shady practice by the dealers, the Roman Empire began certifying its marble as being "sine cera" or "sincerus," meaning that it was "genuine" or "without wax." It's from there that we derive our word "sincere."  So, let's look for a moment at this word "sincere" and apply it to Christians.

Just like our passage reads, Christians are to be "sincere." To be "genuine." The real thing and not phonies. Not just putting on a front or, as the story said, covering up the blemishes with wax, but we are to truly be what we tell the world we are - disciples of Christ. And this means "at all times." Not just "sometimes" when we think someone might be watching us.

In Titus 2:7 we read these words, "In all things showing thyself a pattern (an example) of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity." Titus is referring here to the very nature of a Christian. The character and manner of living seen in "all things" Christians do in living their lives.

The word "always" occurs in the New Testament 29 times (by my count) used in relation to things such as prayer, being thankful, hearing the Word, good works, remembering Christ's death, burial & resurrection, being ready to teach and in obedience. In like manner, in order to be "true" Christians, we have to be "sincere" at all times. Why? Because the world will be watching us. Can we "sincerely" represent Christ to the world if we are not "sincere" ourselves?

Let me tell you one more little story to help illustrate this point. Back when President McKinley was in office, he had to make a decision as to who to appoint as ambassador to another country. There were two candidates for the position and, on the surface, both were equally qualified. While he was weighing his decision, he recalled an occasion when he was still in Congress and had an opportunity to observe the conduct of one of the candidates.

McKinley recalled being on a streetcar during rush hour and had been lucky enough to get the last available seat. Shortly thereafter, an elderly woman carrying a basket of clothes got on and walked the length of the car looking for a seat. No one offered her theirs.

She ended up standing right in front of one of the men who later turned out to be one of the two ambassadorial candidates. McKinley noted that he deliberately shifted his newspaper so that it would look like he didn't notice her. McKinley got up, walked down the aisle and took the woman's basket from her and gave her his seat.

Here's the point of the illustration: no matter what other qualifications this candidate possessed, due to this one act of disrespect and uncaring attitude towards others, it cost him the ambassadorship and the receiving of a great honor because President McKinley chose the other candidate.

Conclusion: if you say you are a Christian, then you have to "practice what you preach." And that means "always." At "all times." If you "do not" or "are not" such, believe me it will be known sooner or later. Moreover, God "always" sees and "knows." If we are not "sincere" in our Christianity, I believe that we'll be like the losing candidate and miss out on a great honor.

Ron Covey

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