Monday, November 2, 2015

Spiritual Seeking

“If you’re not confident in the authority of the Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right.” -- Matt Chandler

Christina Reid, one of my online friends, shared that one.  Besides recognizing the truth in it, I felt that tug on the creative soul that this was a starting point for my next blog post.  But, all day, nothing was coming together to do that.

There's a picture stream on Facebook that's titled "Places to See Before You Die", kind of a scenic bucket list.  I had my own train of thought about them.  It dawned on me that the two ideas might be tied together. The result is this post.  Our illustration is part of the discussion, which we'll get to shortly.

I'm not sure of the context of what Matt Chandler was saying.  It might be from something written or it might have come from one of his sermons.  But travel along the mental journey it took me on.

John 1:1, 14  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God .... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Those verses are understood throughout Christianity as saying that Jesus is the living reality of Scripture.  The two are one and the same in a mysterious, but spiritual way.  I say "mysterious" because, as much as we understand that it's real, there's actually none of us with the knowledge and capacity to comprehend how that happens.  But the Holy Spirit shows us it's Truth.

I think, if we were to sum up, in a few words, the reason we have the Word of God, it would be for us to get as clear a picture of the character and nature of God as we are capable of comprehending. Scripture tells us who God is.  And that's where my thoughts on our illustration come in.

The picture looks like a painting or drawing.  At least it appears that way until we notice the close lighting on the snow on the walkway and rail.  That could only come from using a flash.  And there are the flares in the upper right that an artist wouldn't put there, but might occur in photography.

When we think about those things and what went into creating that and other photographs, we start to jump into my train of thought.  That began with thinking about what good art photographers do. They take a subject and create an image that shows us its soul.  That subject might be a scene, the human form, an object, or an animal.  Whether the photographer is Christian or not, God has given him or her that task.  The same for musicians, with the music they compose and perform. And while things like misfocus and what photographers call post processing or musical combinations we don't expect may make things look different than the eye normally sees or the ear hears, it draws out the spirit of the scene or soundscape.

I believe that God intended the arts to exist and their purpose was another way of experiencing God and what we'll have in heaven.  And I don't see that limited to "Christian" art and music.  Because part of that is to get people who don't think about God thinking about Him.  God doesn't waste anything.  But there's a flip side to that thought.

1 John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1 Peter 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Satan is a great imitator and faker.  The devil will create a facade of reality that either appears to prove there's no God or that develops a spirituality that worships other things as some level of divinity.  He creates a counterfeit that leaves out God.  Art and music will pander to sensuality. Scripture will be twisted to produce false doctrine.  And it will all seem good to the undiscerning.

Demonic activity takes aim at one thing -- replacing a connection with the great I Am with a focus on the god of "me".  Satan doesn't need to be worshipped.  All he wants is that we don't worship God, expecting his own worship to eventually follow.

Isaiah 14:13-14  For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Satan takes us from being true worshippers to lacking in that area.  God responded to Israelites who fell into that trap, like so:

Isaiah 55:7-9  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

But, before God gave them that diagnosis, He gave them a two part prescription to cure and prevent Satan's misdirection.

  • Take in only that which points toward God -- Isaiah 55:1-2  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
  • Hear the Word (Scripture) properly preached and taught -- Isaiah 55:3  Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 
In short, it's summarized in Isaiah 55:6, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:".  How's your seeking?

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