(…continued) For almost a century Winston Churchill walked like a giant on the world’s stage. But even that was not enough to satisfy him. He knew, as we all know, that whatever he had going for him, it would only be in this world, and only for this century– and then, that would be it. And how could even all that ever be enough? Or as Jesus said, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Or as Augustine would say a few centuries later, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.”
Life in a world without God has been compared to staying in one’s house with the windows and doors closed and the shades down all the time. All that you know, all that you can see, and all that you can do is limited to what is in that house. We would see such limits as confining and depressing. But as Churchill found out, even the whole world can be confining, and in the end, the limits of this life and this earth will be depressing. Belief in God, on the other hand, is like putting up the shades and opening the windows and doors. Faith in God opens up our time to all eternity and our home to all of heaven and our hearts to the presence of Jesus.
On every page of the Bible eyes and lives are opened up to far more than what can merely be seen and felt here in the smallness of this world and the little bit of time we have here. Moses is given supernatural help to gain freedom for a his enslaved people from the most powerful nation on earth. Gideon is given miraculous help from on high to win an otherwise hopeless battle against invaders. Esther is called on to risk everything for a higher duty and purpose. The women at the tomb have their eyes opened to the power of God to give life beyond the grave. Peter and the apostles are called on to proclaim that message from another world even if it means disobeying the powers that be in this world. “We must obey God and not men,” they said. And Saul literally has his eyes opened to the eternal Christ after he was first blinded by the light of that Christ. In each story, and many more in the Bible, the shades are raised and the windows are opened so that people can see beyond the dark limits of this little world.
There is much in the Bible that tells us what TO DO: be honest, be faithful, love and serve your neighbor, do not lie, do not cheat, do not steal, and so forth. One of the best known parts is the 10 commandments, that very important list of things that we should do, or, not do. There is indeed much in the Bible about what we should do. But actually, there is probably even more in the Bible about what we should see. As Paul says in II Corinthians we should no longer see things from a worldly point of view. Jesus has opened our eyes to a whole new way of seeing everything.
The world says, “You can have it all.” God in the book of Proverbs says, “It is better to have only a little and have peace, than to have great wealth and nothing but strife.” From a worldly point of view, when you get old and your health is gone, you are done for. But from God’s point of view, even at the end of our days, we can say with Paul, “Brothers and sisters, our SALVATION is nearer now than when we first believed.” From a worldly point of view, the time comes for us all when our time is up and as the old expression goes, ‘we haven’t got a prayer.’ But with God, no matter how hopeless the situation looks, one always has a prayer. Jesus, beaten and hanging on the cross, with the life quickly draining out of him, still had a prayer. He prayed, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
The Bible tells us all kinds of things to do, but first of all, it tells us how to SEE– how to see the world, and life and death, and other people, and everything from a whole different point of view. And it is in that new way of seeing that we are, as Isaiah wrote many centuries ago, ‘led forth in joy and can go out in peace.’
2 Corinthians 5:15-17 — And (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Matthew 16:26 — (Jesus said), “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Luke 23:46 — Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Almighty God, teach us by your Holy Spirit, what to believe, what to do, and where to take our rest. Amen. –Erasmus