Summary: When we turn to Jesus, the veil is removed and we are free to see and experience God
The Veil Removed
Ex 34 and 2 Cor 3 September 23, 2012
Have you ever had someone prescribe your response? It happens all the time – “you’ve GOT to see this movie, you are going to love it!” “I read the greatest book and you have to read it too, your life will be changed forever!” “Wait till you taste this, you won’t believe how amazing it is!”
We do this with our faith as well – we prescribe a response. We mandate it. We teach, “this is what you must do, this is how you must live, this what you must love.” And in doing so, we sometimes neglect the starting point.
And the starting point is, quite simply, God. And sometimes we get focused on all that flows – we need to share our faith, we need to pray, we need to give, we need to help the poor, we need to seek justice. And all those things are good and right and true.
But if they are a prescribed response, without the actual encounter, do you know what they become? Life-suckers. They become burdens, not joys. They become “have-to’s” instead of “want-to’s”. They become extrinsic requirements usually enforced by fear of punishment, guilt, or manipulation.
That is not the way of Christ. Jesus does not prescribe a response. He does not lay out a list of rules for us to follow, with a carrot on a stick, hinting that “if we do it well enough maybe He will let us in to heaven when we die.”
Instead, Jesus just shows up. God just chooses to give us a little peek, a tiny glimpse, a small taste of Himself. He comes, and says “here I am…”
And then we respond. We experience God, and then live. We meet Jesus, something happens, and then the things we do and the way we live and what we love flow as a powerful response to our encounter with the God of the Universe.
One of the amazing themes in Scripture is that of “remembering”. Repeatedly through the Bible story is this pattern – God does something incredible, reveals Himself, like in the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud as God leads His people out of slavery in Egypt, then parts the Red Sea, then drowns the pursuing army – and that becomes a touch-point. An anchor. A monument. Over and over, that incredible display of God’s presence and character and goodness is repeated as the stories are retold, and God’s people are reminded of it and are directed back to it and participate in re-enactments of it. God says, “remember…”
Kind of like when we celebrate communion together around the Lord’s table. “This do in remembrance of me…”
So now I want to pause and have you do a little exercise. I want you to remember. I want you to re-live it. Allow yourself to feel it again.
When has God revealed Himself to you? When have you met Him, encountered Him, experienced Him? Be specific, be personal, and be present to the Holy Spirit whispering those reminders in these moments. If you have never experienced God, seek Him now… ask Him, invite Him, just quiet your heart and listen and just see…
Now, what did God say to you? Did He make a promise, did He speak some words of love and assurance, did He speak some words of healing?
Is there anyone who would like to share your memory?
The Glory of God:
In each of those remembrances, God revealed Himself. We got a little peek, a tiny glimpse, a small taste. And we would probably agree that was we saw was “glorious”.
That bridges us into the theme we began to explore last week – the “glory of God”. We started to wonder together, “what is the glory of God”? We recognized it as one of the broad phrases we see in Scripture and hear about, but that perhaps we’ve never really wrestled with what it actually is.
I chose that exercise for precisely that reason. What I trust you remembered was an experience of the glory of God. What we learn from Scripture is that God does reveal His glory, He has in the past and He will in the future, and it is an amazing almost incomprehensible truth that God wants us to see His glory and then live as a response to that revelation. And I don’t want to start with a prescription for how we are to respond to God, I’d rather lead us to encounter God and then guide and celebrate our response. Or at the very least, continually remind us of when God has revealed His glory, and the words He spoke when He did, so that we begin to understand the glory of God as an experiential reality.