Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
There is always someone who totally blows you away in life. They do something either at work or on the street that is totally unexpected. They seeming out of nowhere save the day. I’ve seen these people I’ve watched them in astonishment as they perform feat of almost magical quality. Leaving me looking at them in a totally different way.
Sometimes I’m that person. For some unknown reason a customer came up to me, a random customer asking me something, and telling me that they saw something different in me that they didn’t see in my coworkers. They asked me what it was that made me different, I said that I just wanted to make sure they found what they needed. They responded that that wasn’t the reason, they saw that I truly cared. This person was starting to freak me out a bit. But they went on saying, “you help everyone your coworkers as well as the customers, even the managers seem to talk to you differently.” They finally finished their observations they said, “You’re a Christian aren’t you.”
Ok they had me wondering now, so I was honest saying yes. They continue and finally asked if I would pray with them about an issue which I did. Something was different, something that they could see that maybe others couldn’t. They saw something at that particular moment that made them discern that I was the one to speak with. They returned a few times to ask for prayed. In the middle of Walmart they found a sanctuary. Another time a woman buying paint broke out in tears after I spoke with her and suggested that she should start painting tomorrow, and buy chicken from the deli for super so she could rest. She told me after a few moments that she was very appreciative because I was the only one who realized she was overwhelmed. She returned the next day thanking me again saying she was so wore out she forgot half of her list. But was grateful to have a light evening.
I tell you these things not to set myself up as a saint, because for every story like this there are others who say I’m pretty twisted. I just want us to be aware of who we are and who is observing us. Little thing things we think are insignificant become the source of hope in others. One event can bring about a Change that ripples for generations.
Paul says in his letter to the church in Corinth that the god of this world has us veiled. Blinded from seeing the truth. When I worked in Hutchinson there was a community that drove horse-drawn carriages around, the horses had blinders on their heads to keep them from being sopped by the cars passing them. This is often the image that comes to my mind when I think of being veiled. Only being able to see the things right in front of us. The world hasn’t changed too much. If the world was veiled in Paul’s day it is still veiled today. Today we are caught in a religious political debate, we are caught in debates in science. Each side has a one tract mind on the issues. which is right? Could it be that neither are, that the both are veiled. Let’s just consider evolution vs. Creation, science says one thing religion another who is right? I say both. If you were to read scripture there is a process a building up in complexity from light, to earth, to plants, and finally to mankind. When I read a biology text I also read about a progression. Both state similar stories except in one area. Yes, I do believe God was involved. But so much of our culture is blinded and are kept blind not because of truth, but if the other is right power and funding may go elsewhere.
The world is veiled kept in the dark by they advisory. The turth of the gospel is hidden because what would happen if…
What would happen if the veil was lifted and we could clearly see the intention of those around us as instead of what was presented before our eyes. Would we vote for that candidate, would we go to that worship community, or participate in that organization? What would happen if we were able to fully see. I think John Lenin would have been singing a different version of imagine.
For a brief amount of time the closet friends of Jesus saw beyond the veil, they saw the truth in all the glory. For a brief moment Jesus was transfigured into something beyond their comprehension. They already knew there was something about Jesus, but they just couldn’t place it. Even though he wasn’t fully meeting their ideas of what the messiah should be they still followed, yet did not fully realize why. That day they saw Jesus without the veil, they saw him in a thin place where heaven and earth seemed to meet, and they didn’t quite know what to do but they liked it. They realized there before their eyes were the hero’s of their faith and they were talking with Jesus. For a brief amount of time they saw for sure that everything in history and the future was found in this one man before them.
Yet again the veil came over their eyes. They were left to wonder if they really saw what happened. They walked back down into the world wondering the same things we wonder, what if. What if Jesus is the one, what will my discipleship mean? What if He isn’t. What if we told this story, would this bring in the kingdom?
The veil is around us. We live in a cloud of unknowing. We only know so much because that is all we are allowed to see or know. Yet we can see some. I have made reference to a book a few times called Father Arseny. This man was a priest in the Soviet Union, and was sent to prison in Siberia for his faith. There was one story in this book that kept coming to me this week. Arseny and another man were being punished for some reason, sent to spend 3 days in a metal box in the dead of winter. It was in subzero temperatures cold enough the kill a person within hours if not sooner. The man with the priest was scared frantically trying to get out the priest said we are given a blessing, we can pray undisturbed for 3 days. So he calmed the man and began to pray. And the priest urged the man to pray with him. The man described the event to others saying, “the priest began to pray and as he continued I observed his worn prison clothes turn into his priestly vestments, and the cell became a church, the darkness turned into light and he turned to me saying you must pray with me so we began to praise God.” (this is my paraphrase) For three days they survived in a cell distended to kill them, yet both lived many years. The veil was lifted. This one priest saw a opertunity to worship without fear and the man with him saw the truth surrounding him.
I am also reminded of the prophets Elijah and Elisha who were surrounded by their enemies yet when Elijah prayed the younger man saw the vast army of God protecting them. There is a reason for the veil. If we saw everything it would overwhelm us. If we were to fully see the spiritual battles raging around us we would be petrified with fear. But what if we were to see just a little more. What if we were to pray for our eyes to be opened for just a bit. Would we respond as we always do? Elisha went on to be an even greater prophet than his mentor, yet it was only after he saw the truth just for an instant. The man sent to the cell with the priest also saw the truth for just a moment and after his eventual release he too joined the church in Russia. The disciples of Jesus saw the truth for a moment and they later witnessed God himself becoming the sacrifice and redemption of the nations, they carried that message to the ends of the known world.
What would we do if the veil were lifted from our eyes? I have said often that we are living in an exciting point in history. We live in an era where people are hungry for spirituality. They seek it all over. The veil is lifting. They are discussed with church as they know it because people in positions of power have abused that power, yet they seek god somewhere. What if a group of devoted followers of Christ saw past the veil and began to shine? I believe that we are on the verge of a great reawakening. A time of great renewal. They are looking but what are we showing. They are reaching out grasping for something to give them hope, but are they seeing the light of the gospel penetrating through their veils.
The truth is here, God loved the world so much that he sent his son not to condemn the world but by through him the world would be saved. That salvation was determined from the beginning of time spoke about by Moses and the prophets and fulfilled in the live, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Through Him all things were made and through him all things are redeemed. We join Him in that life if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that he is Lord now and to ages to come.
That is just the beginning, he then calls us to share the hope we have in our towns, and nation, and to the ends of the earth. What if we became bearers of this light, this gospel. What if we were willing to risk turning our heads to see what is not only in front of us but around us. Would we find people loved by God? Or would we only see fog.
The world is watching us they are anxious for us to give them a reason to hope. They see us at work, in our cars, shopping in the store and going to meeting houses. When they look at us what are they seeing? Are they seeing broken prisoners of the world or strong shining ministers of Christ? Let us consider these thing as were enter open worship on this transfiguration Sunday.