Summary: Our textual script, verses 8-15, sketches the outline of THREE FACES that REFLECT THREE DIFFERING IMAGES. Perhaps if we hush our hearts and focus our lens, we just might perceive our face and reflection mirrored in one of these three sketches drawn by the
During what has been called the “Sizzling Sixties,” Dinah Ross and the Supremes recorded a cut entitled “Reflections.” That song was about faces and the memories those faces reflected. Looking out her rain-soaked window, she sees reflections of how things used to be. She sees the face of a distant lover, and she sees the reflection of the love he took from her. She sees reflections of wasted years and useless tears. And all that remained in her heart was the outline of a familiar face, and that face evoked painful reflections.
The TV series “China Beach” was a nostalgic retrospection on faces and reflections of the Viet Nam War era. It used the song “Reflections” as its theme. Some years ago I would know when “China Beach” was on because a few of my daughters used to exercise their vocal chords with a strange mixture of harmony to sing loudly that song, as if in their very brief lives, they had had previous experiences which caused them to relate to the words of that song. They were only 8 and 6 at the time!
Perhaps in the history of your pilgrimage, you have had a “China Beach: a place where you have been severely tried and tested, a place of bruising battle and protracted pain – “China Beach”; a place where you had to stand your ground and defend your principles or practices. In a very real sense, every growing saint has had his/her “China Beach.” And occasionally, present faces cause you to reflect on previous experiences. Every now and then you run upon a face that reminds you of a past experience, and you reflect again on that experience.
Stephen had his “China Beach,” but he stood! Our textual script, verses 8-15, sketches the outline of THREE FACES that REFLECT THREE DIFFERING IMAGES. Perhaps if we hush our hearts and focus our lens, we just might perceive our face and reflection mirrored in one of these three sketches drawn by the Holy Spirit. And let me add here parenthetically that the Holy Spirit is a Master Artist. He paints a true picture. He always draws our portrait well, showing all our faults and flaws which we have tried to make over, cover up or minimize. But nothing is hid from the eyes with whom we have to do. God knows how to draw our true portrait, after which He shows it to us that we might be convicted, turn and be changed into the image of Christ, so that we might go from glory to glory and from strength to strength.
The simple premise of this message is: EVERY FACE IS A REFLECTION OF THE CONDITION OF THE HEART. Let’s see, then, if our textual Script will validate my claim that Faced Do in fact Reflect.
I. THE FIRST FACE WE CONFRONT IS THE FACE OF ACADEMICS.
In verse 9, we find certain faces rose up from the synagogue of the Libertines that had a cross-section of members from Cyrene, Alexandria of Egypt, Cilcia and Asia. If we would examine this Text of Scripture closely, it will reveal some Features of the Face of Academia.
Here we have the faces of men who were Proud of their denomination with an Academic background, and raised up in a Scholastic atmosphere. They were very prim and proper in their grammar and language, very erudite in their learning, very logical in their reasoning. Their outlook was that of Learning. They knew well the history and theorem of their denomination, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But any history without God is no history at all, for we all come from Him. If, then, history does not commence with Him (for He is the beginning, the Alpha of history), but begins with a man and his theory is doomed to failure; for “except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that are builders.”
These faces of Academia were looking to dead men who had pioneered a “theory of knowledge,” staking their eternal security on the fickle ideas of frail frames. We love our history, heritage and denomination so much so that we would stand and even die for it, not realizing that if the Lord is not in it, it cannot stand and will not profit us.
These religious men were very learned but inexperienced in practical matters: they lacked wisdom. Learning without the ability to apply or put that knowledge into practice is useless. They were basing their claims on the writings of scribes and Pharisees, hypocritical individuals who had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof.
We have those among us who are very erudite as it relates to knowing the historicity of their denomination, and have some knowledge of the Scriptures in that they can quote some and can tell you where they are found, but they do not know Jesus. Therefore they have zeal but no life, theory but no truth, policy but no power. They are fervent in defending a building, a sect, a denomination, or a set of rules or rituals that have no power, but are dead silent when it comes to defending the faith that was once delivered unto the saints. My friends, we must be careful not to defend something that is indefensible. We are to contend for the faith, the Christ and holy things but not to stand up for denominationalism. There is only one denomination, the Church of God. There is only one sheepfold, one door and one shepherd; and if we don’t come through the door, we are not in the denomination. There is only one church, the Church of Jesus Christ or the Church of God. He is the Architect. He built it and He calls and adds to it!