SEEING GOD IN OUR LIVES.
How God sees us God sees us and loves us uniquely. The psalmist says in Psalm 139:13&14
For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mothers womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God sees us quite differently to the way we often see ourselves or the world sees us. We know this because he sent Jesus to live and die that we might be reconciled to him. We can too often forget this truth that we are made in God's image and he truly loves us with every fibre of his being. He sees us as worthy, worthy enough to die for.
No one person is greater than any other but together we can make a difference both practically and spiritually in this world. Romans 7:4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
S earching after God is an on-going journey and if we think that we have arrived then the chances are we are facing the wrong way.
It is this idea of seeing God that I want to explore in the particular story from Matthews Gospel where the disciples see Jesus coming to them walking on the water.
Spurgeon the great preacher of the 19th century when talking about studying God said the following:
There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.
He goes on to talk of three benefits humbling, consoling and expanding.
Firstly humbling. Progress and knowledge are great words but that can lead to a feeling of superiority. We talk of the developed world.
We look at the past and think how could they make those mistakes, yet history too often repeats itself. We need sometimes to be brought back down to earth. This is some of what is happening in Matthew 14. The disciples have helped feed the 5000, they must have been walking on cloud nine but now Jesus ushers them away, even before the crowd. He doesnt want them jumping to any rash actions as the feeding in a desert was associated with the coming messiah. Yes he wants them to declare he is the Son of God but not in the enthusiasm following a major miracle. So they are pushed to one side and told to go across the lake.
Jesus then dismisses the crowd and withdraws to get some space for himself. Meanwhile the disciples are in the boat, probably rowing, trying to get across the lake. Now this is particularly embarrassing as some of them were fishermen and yet having spent most of the night rowing they were stuck in the middle not getting anywhere.
In their defence storms are quick to blow down across the sea of galilee and can be vicious but equally it must have been quite humbling that Jesus asks them to go across the lake and they cannot do it. Now notice that Jesus makes them sweat. It is early morning before he goes to join them. And so eventually he walks to them across the water. They were already tired and probably scared, wondering if they were going to make, when suddenly a figure appears on the water. At this time it was popularly believed that the sea was the home to evil spirits so no wonder their first reaction is that this is a ghost. Their terror from being tossed and buffeted by the sea is taken to a new level truly they are terrified.
Is this a bad thing to be terrified when meeting God? I want to suggest it is not. That actually there is something very important in our knowing God is recognising the importance of fear. This is not a crippling fear or a destructive fear but a fear out of recognition of the smallness of us as human beings and the vastness of God.
Psalm 110:10 and Proverbs 1:7 both talk about how The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom or knowledge. In stressing Jesus humanity or God as Father we can sometimes lower God to our level. Whereas the reality is so different. I have mentioned a book before now called our God is too small and its sequel our God is still too small. The psalmist in Psalm 8:3&4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what are mere mortals that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
But God does not leave us there terrified, humbled. Consoling.
In Matt 14:27 Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Dont be afraid.
He goes on to deal one to one with Peter and his strange request to walk on the water. This part of the story is only in Matthew and if you want to look at it in more detail then I recommend a book called if you want to walk on water then you got to get out of the boat. Excellent summer read about risk taking. But for this mornings purposes this whole interaction shows Gods compassion. Yes they are terrified but Jesus reaches out in word and deed to reassure them. He doesnt take away the immediate problem. The waves are still tossing them about as we see when they distract Peter and he begins to sink. What started off so well quickly descends into chaos again. But Jesus simply reaches out and grabs him.
Yes there is a rebuke but it is a gentle one. The word doubt here is meaning being of a divided mind. In other words Peter could see Jesus and trusted his command to come to him but at the same time allowed the storm to intrude into his thoughts. So many of my doubts are like this. I know God and I trust God yet I allow other peoples opinions, this worlds values, my own short comings to divide my mind so that I start to sink and God has to gently catch me and shake his head with a smile on his face and say Paul, Paul why do you doubt, remember who I am. This is why I love Romans 8 as a chapter of encouragement and especially the end that goes:
If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Yes we are humbled and brought low but we are also raised up through the compassion of our God.
This then leads to Spurgeons third benefit from seeing or knowing God. our minds is expanded. The disciples were not the same after that experience, especially Peter. Yes there was still journeying to do a few chapters later peter is to declare the truth of Jesus as the messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God but equally there will be much later denials and restoration.
But for now the disciples together recognise Jesus more than they had the day before in the feeding of the 5000. They do not declare him the Son of God at the end of the feeding. No it is here in the midst of a lake, terrified yet consoled, their minds are opened to a new seeing of Jesus and of God. Jesus gets into the boat, the winds calm down and the disciples worship.
What were we made for? To know God. what aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God. What is the eternal life that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
As we know God then everything else is put into focus. Just like that first picture we can see what is wrong and what is right. We understand in a way that was not possible before. I am not saying it is easy, there is humbling and there is consoling but then we can have expansion, a growing in faith and from that flows true worship. Knowing God provides a foundation, shape and goal for our lives, plus a principle of priorities and a scale of values.
Please join me in singing; ''I want to see Jesus lifted up, the banner...
Almighty God we thank you for revealling yourself daily in our lives.
Help us to daily walk in your ways,allowing you to always have your
way in our lives.I pray that your will be done to your people,now and
forever more AMEN.