Thursday, July 26, 2012
GOD MAKES BEAUTIFUL
When God created the world from nothing, He intended man and everything else to live in perfect trust. He sculpted the man an built the woman. He called them to live, day in and day out, filling the earth with life. After six days, He looked at everything and called it “very good”. God set time in motion. He did not make men and women to be robots. He gave them the will that took Him at His Word. Then, the serpent—Satan, the devil in disguise—came in sleek deception. He turned Adam and Eve against their Lord and Creator. Since then, man has rebelled. Creation has faced natural catastrophes. Disease and disabilities became present realities for us. Man has warred against himself. In terms of a portrait, sin, death, and Satan made ugly what God created beautiful. As sin with its fall-out has corrupted creation, it has tarnished how we see time’s passing. Our bodies wear out. Months and years show us the same cycle of emotions and events—from being born to dying, from weeping to laughter, from building big dreams and watching them crumble. Time marches on. One day follows another in pain-staking, agonizing progression. Does beauty rest in the eye of the beholder? On the one hand, King Solomon who wrote Ecclesiastes agrees. There is nothing new under the sun. Everything we do ends up being an exercise in vanity. Who knows if we who work hard at our jobs may preceed someone who is lazy and unproductive? We wonder if our day-in-day-out labor makes any difference at all. On the other hand, as needs arise in our and others’ lives, we find ourselves longing to lend a hand. Work, our service to each other, continues to find its way into our lives. Thanks be to God! We are not left to ourselves with our own perception of time. The Lord makes benefits flow from the work of our hands. He preserves our body and life for the time He allots to each of us. Returning to our portrait analogy, God promised to make beautiful again what sin made ugly. Shortly after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in Eden, the Lord found them dressed in their futile fig leaves. After rebuking them for their disobedience, He promised, then and there, to send a Savior. The woman’s seed would crush the serpent’s head. Throughout the Old Testament, God continued to bring order to the days and years of those who took Him at His Word. Now, He calls us to look back to His promise accomplished. In the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4-7), He sent His Son to save our fallen race. He calls us to continue taking Him at His Word. He will return to judge between those who have trusted Him and those who have not. In Christ Jesus our Redeemer, all history and time is driven by God’s promised salvation. Though Holy Scripture narrated the events surrounding the people of Israel, that nation was called to be a light to the whole world. Everyone would look at how the One and Only God dealt with them and turn away from idolatry. But, Israel failed to walk according to the plan. Instead of showing the light of life, they compromised their trusting the Lord alone in favor of including idols into their worship. Instead of God’s blessing, they incurred God’s wrath and punishment, making themselves a spectacle like other nations. Amid their rebellion, God spoke through His prophets for anyone to hear and believe. That is why the Lord sent other world powers to take them captive in exile. First came the Assyrians, then Babylonians. These nations tore down the temple He called His people to build. They perverted the ceremonies He commanded. Yet, as His chosen nation was scattered, He sent His written and preached Word with them. When the land was laid to waste, after about seventy years, He worked through an emperor’s decree to bring His peopleback to their homeland. From the West, the Lord permitted time for powers like Rome and Greece to rise. Along with a revived Egyptian empire and others, they lay in wait for opportunity to seize control of the Middle East. As these nations gained power, the Jews again scattered to cities such as Alexandria, Thebes, Antioch, and even Rome. They scattered, taking the Law of the Lord with them. The world was right for the coming of God’s eternal Son. Then, after His death and resurrection, His called apostles took the Word of His promise fulfilled worldwide. The New Testament tells of the lengths to which these apostles wento telling the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ that both Jew and Gentile alike would believe. Yet, you and I wear down as our years go on. We gasp in amazement at the way advances in computers both help our independence and confuse many we hope would employ us. Despite the drive for diversity and equality in employment, we still wonder when those with disabilities will enjoy equal standing and access to mainstream society. As urban sprawl takes away the neighborhoods we once considered safe, we feel isolated and afraid to go very far to find social outlets. With our emotions drained, time may still feel as if it just marches on in chaos. I am not advocating, here, that we see ourselves in this way, portrayed by Jim Morrison of The Doors as “riders on the storm”. Yet, the reality of our fallen human emotions remains, we struggle against lethargy. The portrait remade beautiful seems disorderly and distorted in our daily lives. Nevertheless, God’s Word still comes to us with comfort amid this chaos. He has made all things beautiful in His time. Amid the doom, gloom, and decay we witness, He bids us to look up. His redemption, His promised second coming is drawing near. He is giving time for unbelievers to repent and come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Peter. 3:9) In the meantime, He sustains us through His Word and gifts. He gives us friends, relatives, and coworkers who forgive us of things we’ve said or done wrong. And, we rejoice in likewise forgiving them. Normally, the sight of blood tarnishes and appears gruesome. This is true as far as how we in our sinfulness shed blood in battle and as abortion take the lives of the innocent. Blood splattered in cases of medical malpractice puts a damper on some people’s willingness to cooperate with a system designed to save life instead of terminating it. The blood of Jesus, shed once for all the world splashes its beautiful redemption across all of human history. Christ’s death, though gory as an R=-rated crime scene, makes the portrait and reality eternal life beautiful. Our Beautiful Savior laid down His life for us to take it up again and direct our days and our deeds in His peace. The Lord promises that even the feet of those who run swift to declare His good news are beautiful (Rom. 10:15) since His Word will not return empty but will accomplish that for which He sends it. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, (1 John 1:7), even us who trust and tell that simple Gospel message in our lives. Jesus Christ will return and take us who trust in Him alone to everlasting life in heaven and consign forever all unbelievers to hell. At that time, He will show the portrait in our sight of His salvation accomplished, the portrait He now shows us through faith. He has made all things beautiful in His time and promises to preserve our body and life till He comes.