Fifth Sunday of Easter
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
May 5, 1996
(Take a trip to the Grand Canyon...drove all the way...spent lots of dollars on gas, food & motels...listened to the kids in the back seat...went to the Visitor's Center...saw the models of the canyon...viewed the films of the park. Conclusion: Not necessary now to go to the rim and look in. Does that make sense? Many people look to see God in nearly the same way. They see the various churches, mosques, synagogues and temples...perhaps read a bit about the various religions and conclude they need come no closer...They have seen enough. They want to see God, but not too close up!
NEARLY EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE GOD.
Some want to see God in themselves.
They deny that the true God exists despite evidence to the contrary.
They prefer to conclude that they are their own "god".
We may then do as we please without accountability to anyone.
Problem: If they do see God, then they must admit that they need to be in a positive relationship with Him.
Instead, we opt for being our own final authority.
Ignore the Ten Commandments.
Ignore the needs of others...They can take back seat to our own.
Concentrate on pleasing ourselves.
Let the rest of the world take care of themselves!
They demand from the Church of Jesus Christ that we show them proof of God's existence They want to see God, but only to prove that there is none.
Others want to see a god of their own creation.
There is no culture without a concept of God...The evidence is too pervasive to ignore.
He is seen largely through what can be known of Him in creation.
Here is a God of great power, incredible intelligence.
Here is a God whose design is elegant and whose natural laws cannot be broken.
Here is a God to fear!...There is no sign of grace in this God.
And so, to see God, idols are crafted, false priests are appointed and god, after god, after god dot the landscape of lost humanity.
Rather than be "stuck" with the God of Creation, some have chosen to develop a "do-it-yourself" or "designer god"...A construction of convenience.
This is idolatry without the idol.
This is a god of human design...changeable to fit the latest demand.
If your god is too strict, then construct one of your own liking.
IF WE DESIRE TO SEE GOD, AND TO KNOW HIM, WE MUST LOOK AT JESUS.
Like so many others, Philip had missed the significance of Jesus' birth.
This baby is God incarnate!...God in the flesh.
Paul in Colossians 2:9 puts it about as clear as anyone would want it.
God is among us...with feet, hands, hunger, pain, laughter...and eternity.
Philip had failed to see the fulfillment of God promise of salvation.
Consider the amazing message of consistency in the Bible.
From the very time of man's plummet into sin, God has provided one and only one way...A Savior was to be born!
Genealogy after genealogy attest to this longing for the One who was to be born.
During all of human history, faith has been the key to salvation.
Not just any faith...but total, unabashed trust in the Christ for our salvation.
Faith in the payment He made for our sins.
Not faith that comes from us, but from Him as a free gift.
This saving faith is not an academic or even an emotional thing...It is a relationship with God through Christ!
This is a relationship based on love, not estrangement.
This is a relationship between friends, not adversaries.
This is a relationship with God who is Jesus Christ, Father and Holy Spirit.
God has given Himself to be seen, touched, acknowledged, and served.
For centuries we have demanded in various ways that God show up... Well, He has!
Come, see Him in His Word.
Come, touch Him in the Lord's Supper!
Come, knowing that as you see Christ, so too, do you meet God face-to-face!
Now, will we serve Him with our lives and speak of Him so that others may have life and spiritual sight?
To serve God is to spread the Good News of forgiveness of sins in Christ.
Here is the message the world is dying to hear!
Here is hope and life and purpose and meaning for life!
Here is salvation from the vain seeking after God by those who would only see a creation God of power and fear and those who would fool themselves into thinking that they can create God in their own image.
God has promised that even greater things than He accomplished would be done through His people:
Indeed it is true...Jesus may have converted thousands, but those who brought His Word to the nations have been the means to save billions!
And this work is not over by a long shot!...We too are a part of the living and telling of the Gospel of Christ!
No, God is not distant from us nor is He willing to stay at arm's length from us. God has come to us! God has died for us! God has risen from the dead to give us life! The only good way to experience the Grand Canyon is to hike into the depths and see the wonder of that part of creation. And the only way to see God is to look intently at His Son, Jesus Christ. To study Him. To worship Him and to serve Him! Amen.
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