August 8, 2007

Second Commandment, Reprise

Sometimes, when you are making blueberry muffins, there is just too much batter to fit into twelve little tin cups. That’s always exciting to me…because there is an extra treat for me when I get to lick the bowl clean! Sermons can be like that, too. Sometimes there is just too much good stuff to fit into one 45 minute sermon. Sunday, with the second commandment, that was the case. And this article is my attempt to let you lick the bowl clean.

Last week, we made much of the fact that God does not permit us to represent Him through our own visual creativity—through painting, sculpture, drama, etc. Rather, we are to look for Him in His word; and we are to represent Him, physically, only through the one visible symbol that He (and not we) has created for our use—the Lord’s Supper. I think these are the most important things that I could have said from Exodus 20.4-6.

However, there was still a little batter left in my bowl. And it comes from 1 John 4.12—No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

John reminds us that “no one has seen God at any time.” Neither the Father nor the Spirit ever walked on the earth in a body. Furthermore, though Jesus did become flesh, none of us know what He looked like. That is why, as we said last week, we are not to try and paint Him to the human eye. Yet we know that God desires that we should, with the eyes of our hearts, see Him and know Him and praise Him. So the casual onlooker might ask, ‘How are we supposed to see and know and praise this God who cannot be seen?’ And again, the main answer would be: ‘Well, we see and know God through His word.’ And a secondary answer is: ‘We see the Lord Jesus portrayed for us visibly in the Lord’s Supper.’ Both of these are correct and important answers.

But there is another important answer to the question, ‘How can we see an invisible God?’ And it’s an answer that we might not have thought as much about. John explains it in verse 12: “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” Isn’t that great? If someone were to ask John, ‘How are we supposed to see and know a God who is unseen?’ one of his answers would be: ‘Watch us Christians. See how we love one another. That is God living “in us”!’ You see, you and I are little mirrors that reflect God’s likeness to the world. They cannot see Him straight on. And they must not ‘see’ Him through the creations of human artistry and imagination. But they can see Him as He shines on and through us. And there is perhaps nothing we do that better reflects God’s face than when we love one another.

So the question is, ‘Do we really want the world to see and know our God?’ Do we really want His face to be stamped in the memories of our families, our work-places, our schools, and our city? If we do, then we will not pull out our paintbrushes or our chisels. Rather, we will pull out our towels and begin washing one another’s feet! “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us”—for all the world to see!

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