Thursday May 7, 2020
Psalm 19:1-4 1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Matthew 5:8 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 6 So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
How do we see God?
Suzanne Montgomery, writing for the Upper Room, gives a helpful answer. Suzanne and her husband bought a starter beehive kit from a local beekeeper. She asked the beekeeper where the queen bee was. The beekeeper said that she did not have to actually “see” the queen; if eggs and bee larva appeared in the combs, the queen must be there. Sure enough, the hive flourished.
Her conclusion is that God is invisible. God is spirit. God is not seen directly with one’s eyes; rather, God’s work is very visible and proves God is there, nevertheless.
Psalm 19 (above) puts this insight into a song. It asks us to look at nature, at the blue sky, at the amazing diversity of life, at the dependability of day and night. Although we can’t see God directly, although we can’t hear the words by which God created and sustains the world around us, God is proven by creation. God is working. God is involved. God cares. How could all this be, except for God’s will?
How do we see God?
In the Sermon on the Mount (above), Jesus adds that a person with a pure heart will see what others do not see. They have a special blessing. They can “see” God.
What did Jesus mean?
Several things. First is his answer (John 14:8-9) to Philip as they were sharing his last supper, “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Jesus meant that, though God is spirit, he sent a part of himself, Jesus, who could be seen by human eyes. He cared for us that much. We have accounts of people who directly “saw” him and who heard his teachings and saw his example.
Second, he meant it was a blessing of the pure in heart to “recognize” him. He applied Isaiah’s prophesy to people saying (Matthew 13:13), “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because ‘seeing’ they do not ‘see’, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” He meant that people could directly see him and his handiwork, but not recognize what it meant. For example, some will say good things from God are just dumb luck or good fortune or random chance. What else can they say if they deny the existence of God? Others will fix on bad things and conclude they are being punished by God or by Satan or even space aliens. All false. Jesus said, “… nor do they understand.”
Third, he meant that the pure in heart are able to keep their eyes on God, even when there is chaos. Paul said (Philippians 3:13-14), “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” If we are controlled by fear or worry or anger, we may not even see what is good. We may see everything through the blinders of our negative emotions. Paul says that we must avoid such negative thinking even if it takes a lot of energy. Don’t let the past control us. Press on.
Jesus asks us to be pure in heart. This doesn’t mean we don’t mess up and need to confess, perhaps often. But it means we look to Jesus, we strive to recognize God’s handiwork among the chaos, and we “press on” past negative thinking and toward the promises of God.
How do we see God?
There can be times when there is so much chaos, so much disaster, so much confusion, so much threat, so much loss that it is hard to see God. We may feel like the psalmist (Psalm 10:11) that “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face …”. Early Christians experienced that when persecution fell upon them. Paul advised the Corinthians (above) that, when we cannot “see”, rely on faith. Sometimes events are so bad that God’s love and provision seem hidden from our eyes. In that case go forward by faith. Pray. Read scripture. Remember Jesus’ good news. Know that heaven awaits. Turn your attention to others, especially to those worse off. Find a way to help them.
In this time of pestilence, we see untimely death. In our isolation we are deprived of conversation and human touch. We encounter sadness, worry, and loneliness. Yet God is present. People are helping one another. We are learning to Zoom. May we continue to see God through our eyes and through our faith.
-Pastor Douglas Donigian
Stay in touch. Share your needs. Let us help. Amen.