Summary: The reality is that sin hurts and darkens our way. In those times, we need God to draw near. We need God to have a face
"God With A Face"
The family had gone to the mountains for vacation. Their cottage overlooked a friendly lake. After a swim and dinner, it was bedtime. Tenderly, the mother prepared her little daughter for the night, heard her prayers, kissed her, and left the room. Immediately, Julia called for her to come back. The child raised some difficult questions about God. Patiently the mother listened, and then said reassuringly, “We’ll be on the porch. There’s nothing to hurt you. God is in the dark as well as in the light.” Plaintively the child replied, “But I can’t see Him in the dark, Mummy. I want a God with a face.”
So do we all. When night comes, trouble knocks, disappointments punctuate the day, and problems pyramid, we all crave a God with a face. In our anxiety and agony, we join David in saying: “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Ps. 24:6). (Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a Word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May Your Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
It’s Going to Hurt Me More...
The reality is that sin hurts, and correction hurts. There is another reality, that we usually don’t truly get until we are parents ourselves. It really does “hurt me more than it hurts you” when a parent has to discipline a child.
From our fallen natures, it hurts more because we want our children to “like” us. NOBODY - unless he or she is sadistic - wants to see their child in pain, be it physical or emotional. It also hurts because we can’t help but wonder if our child’s misbehavior or failure is somehow our fault. Finally, chastisement requires that we take time, in an apparent hostile action, that we would rather devote to something much more cooperative with our child.
From the Image of God part of us, there is a more profound pain, especially if we are trying to raise our children, “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” We are trying to raise up “a godly seed.” In addition, we are modeling a sanctified life, and we desire that life to be followed. When those who follow us stumble, we feel the pain of sin separating us, or those whom we are disciplining, from God.
Even greater than this pain, however, is the pain of knowing that we, not just the one who transgressed, have come short of God’s glory. This pain reminds us that God also suffered for our sin. “For He who knew no sin became sin for us, in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
It truly is our sin that led to Christ being “lifted up from the earth” to hang upon the cross. He was not forced to be there, but He was compelled to be there, constrained by His love for us. That love was not an isolated love, born only by the Son; it was the love of the Triune God - Father Son and Holy Spirit - that put our Lord on that “old rugged cross.”
I don’t tell you this to guilt-trip you into promising to do better, but because it is the truth. The truth is that “rugged individualism is a myth.” “Naked self-interest” is a sin. Obsession with introspection is a trick of the devil. As long the colonies were a hodgepodge of individuals doggedly defending each his own interests, they were bound to fail. Until that loose confederation of colonial militias was transformed into the Continental Army, the United States was destined to be a still-born dream. As long as the best hope for the American slave population was individual deliverance via the Underground Railroad, there was no chance that the curse of slavery would end. It was not until America turned from being a nation of tinkers and craftsmen into a nation built upon assembly lines of mass production, of teams working together towards a common goal, that America grew from an Atlantic Coast rump-state to a Continental power and a major player on the world stage.
If that is true naturally, and it is, just read any history book, how much more is it true spiritually. We are not saved by God through the Gospel simply to become more moral individuals. We are saved so that, as it is written,