Years ago, when I was one of the four pastors in a church, we were taught to never let people get too close to us. The belief was that once the members knew who we really were, they would no longer receive our ministry. I was always troubled by that, and when my wife and I had college live in our house, the senior pastor chastised us. But I learned that from Jesus. Honest. Isn’t that what He did it? Did the Senior Pastor expect us to where veils over our faces?
I better explain that. We are told that when he came down from Mt. Sinai, his face was shining as he reflected the glory of God (Exodus 34:29). He didn’t know it, but when he began speak to the people, they could see the glory on his face and were quite amazed. But then I saw something in Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth:
“. . . we are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently [Now look] at the end of what was fading away. . . .” (II Corinthians 3:12-13)
Huh? I just noticed something that you don’t see when you read Exodus. When Moses came down from the mountain he wasn’t even aware that his face was shining. However, once he realized what had happened he wore a veil when he talked to the people, and eventually that glory “faded.” Ooh. Think about those “glory moments” you experienced. Remember those times when you experienced a fresh encounter with the living Lord and everybody wanted to “slap your back,” and give you a bunch of “Amens?” They faded. The emotion and glow of the moment faded. Time ground us down. Life wore us down and we discovered we weren’t as Holy as we thought — and God forbid anyone discover that about us.
But as Paul went on to explain:
“. . . their minds became closed . . .” (II Corinthian 3:14)
Another translation states that their minds became “Hardened and closed.” They no longer wanted the Truth. In fact, whenever they experienced tough situations (and the people didn’t believe the could depend on their preacher anymore), they would declare, “We’ve got this, no problem. We’re on it. You can count on us. We will do what God says!” But before the day was over, they forget their commitment and disregarded God’s Word.
As one brother wrote:
“Religion is one of the great cover-up schemes of the devil and our flesh. We convince ourselves, or the devil whispers in our ear, ‘Put up a front. Just pretend. Fake it. You can get away with it. Everyone else is faking it, so you’ll fit right in.'”
So what about us? We go to church and put on that religious façade and hide our sinful, miserable lives with religious activity. We convince ourselves that all we have to do is show up, check the box, do good deeds, and toss in an occasional coin in the offering plate. We polish the shiny veneer because our pride won’t allow us to admit we aren’t cutting it spiritually.
Our empty words mean nothing more than trying to please our God through our flesh. But the flesh offends our God. Any religion that tries to work its own way to Him completely undercuts the gospel of Grace.
My friend, our Father is not looking for your “best efforts,” he is looking for a heart that is devoted to Him. This devotion is not something you add to your life. It is a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God or you capitulate to the principle that governs the rest of the world. You must make a choice as to whether or not He is truly your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your savior, your guide. If He is, you have discovered the fulfillment of your faith.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.