The Camera of God’s Word
It is a funny thing about cameras in that the pictures can be altered to cover up blemishes, flaws, and other pain points. Now, depending on who takes the picture, the flaws show up. For example, at a recent funeral, my mother in law took a picture of my brothers and sister and me; The picture was not complimentary in the least and all I could say was “Dear God”! There are pictures, though, that we as humans are very good at covering up the blemishes and those pictures are our bias. Bias is a negative term because it means seeing situations and people as we want to see them and not as they really are. Research shows, everyone has at least one bias and that is a fact of life. It is very easy to point out the flaws in someone else’s life like “geese, you are bald” or “if you had to haul ass, would it take two or three trips”? Then, a funny thing happens someone else takes a picture of us and we see that we are overweight, balding, and not the slim thing we used to be or think we are.
God’s word is a lot like a camera because, it shows pictures of where we came from, the journey of Israel, Jesus, Paul, the kings of Israel and Judah. Some of those pictures are not complimentary and often sickening. David is held up as the greatest king of all time and he did great things for his nation and family; yet, the part that is sometimes overlooked is the tragic mistakes in judgment he committed and the fallout from it. In a divorce, it is common to have pictures that include the former mate cut out of the album so that he or she is not seen again – the person who used to be the darling of our life is now the scum that we oppose and so he/she is cut out. The ironic part is that, no matter how hard we try to remove the eyesore, the picture remains intact blights, blemishes, and all. God does this so that we can come to our senses, accept what we have done wrong and make it right, and know that love is deeper than the skin; in his eyes, he sees us as children of the Living God yet, painfully human – subject to the way of the world around us.
There was an incident one day in which Jesus’ opposition tried to dispute Jesus’ testimony about who he was, his father, and his authority to teach. The camera of God’s word is always clearest after the smoke is cleared and actions are committed; Jesus said “when you have lifted the Son of Man up, you will know that I am the “the Son of the Living God” and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me”; one part was left out and that “it will be too late”. Jesus knowing that many hearts were turned to him, said something that emphasizes my point “If you stay in my word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. Bear in mind, that even in crowds, there will be an opposition to the truth and for Jesus, it was no different. Some took the picture Jesus presented and said “we are Abraham’s decedents and have never been slaves – we do not need to be set free” – you can read the rest of John 8 to see how Jesus handled it. Sufficient to be said that uncomplimentary pictures will always be very difficult to accept and people will do anything and everything to avoid seeing them. In 1997, I was diagnosed with hypertension and kidney failure; I dismissed both and accepted the medications. Fast forward 20 years, one kidney is dead and the other is on the way out – this is a picture I would rather not see but, turning a blind eye to it will not fix the problem only with action and embracing the challenge. The same is said of facing our sinful actions and the painful consequences.
One day, just before the trial, Nicodemus went to go see Jesus in late evening hours for the express purpose of fact-finding. Nicodemus was Israel’s teacher and he needed to have the facts before putting Jesus on trial for his life. The meeting did not go the way Nicodemus expected because Jesus turned the camera directly on Nicodemus by telling him in no uncertain terms “Nicodemus, you will not understand why I do what I do or say what I say unless you are born again – that is, you put fleshly desires aside and become new in the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus was caught surprise and fell back on his education “What do you think I am going to crawl back into the womb and come out again”. Jesus response “Flesh gives birth to flesh but the spirit gives birth to the spirit; I speak to you of earthly things (like the miracle of life itself) and you do not understand so, how can you possibly understand spiritual things Teacher”? John summed up the conversation perfectly “For God so loved the world that he gave his Son that who so ever should believe in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:1-21). Honing in on John 3:16 and dismissing the first part is like going to a doctor and dismissing the terrible diagnosis and embracing “everything will be perfect and great just with this pill”.
The easiest thing in the world to do is “not open the word of God” because, then we can cleverly tell our self “I am ignorant of the word, therefore, it does not exist”. This is a sticky point for many people just as it was for Israel and Judah during the Temple periods and beyond. For this reason, we put on a veil over our eyes and cotton in our ears so that we do not see or hear the truth. In the book of Jeremiah, God is showing the Prophet what is really going on in Israel and where it is all leading to. Imagine, if you will, hearing two diametrically opposing prophecies: all good and all bad – which do you believe (2nd Kings 3 as an example)? The people wanted to hear the good stuff: victory, the return of power to the nation, and the ability to enjoy God’s blessing while living deep in sin – sound familiar? The world around us does not necessarily accept the Bible as an authoritative source and many reject it because it does not fit in their modicum of a lifestyle. The problem is, no one likes being confronted about sin as is shown in the incident in Luke 20 with emphasis on verse 19 (Everyman’s Bible NLT).
It is my contention that if the camera of God’s word consisted only of Psalms 23, 91, Jeremiah 29 verse 11-12, and many other feel-good sounding verses, everyone would jump on the bandwagon to read it. Yet, let them read the verses “discipline your child” (Proverbs 23:13), “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24), and the stark words of God to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 5) and all bets are off. During the first part of Jesus’ ministry, thousands flocked to hear the teacher and they loved to watch Jesus make mincemeat out of the Pharisees and Sadducees; yet, toward the end, the messages became very hard to accept: “He’s going away – where is he going to that we cannot follow”, “he wants us to eat his body and drink his blood – gross” and so people left in droves and became part of the crowd that consented to Jesus’ crucifixion (John 6:60 – 68).
For the past 12 years, I have read the Bible cover to cover every year. I have found that the word never glosses over sin, never gives it a clever-sounding name, or exonerates one person and dumps on another for the same sin. There are no celebrities, no VIP’s or other high ranking people – just imperfect people in the hands of a Loving God. God never changes his word – tomorrow or 100 years from now, the word will say the same thing – we are sinners in need of grace and God will accept us as we are, where we are, and how we are when we come to him in humility and repentant (Isa 1:11).
Yours for the victory