The Bible says that man is made in God's image. Humans are designed. We are not gods but we are designed with a similarity to the one true God.
Children are like parents, each unique. They possess traits echoing us. All of us represent something larger than ourselves. We're designed for eternal life but we're not immortal yet.
Our world is changing. Ideas of right and wrong are shifting. Our kids are facing that. We, their parents, are often the most significant human agents capable of influencing them. They know us better than anyone else in their lives. Hopefully they've seen some good will in us toward them. Hopefully they can receive something from us and be guided to think for themselves enough so they don't ride the societal conveyer belt through the cultural cookie-cutter ending up as just another widget. For a moment in time we have opportunities to prepare them for good things.
Some say it takes a village to raise a child. But the "village" is preoccupied. People are busy with their own lives. Some are more interested in 11 square inches of phonescreen than about their baby or aging mother.
And while we're at it, there isn't "a" village, but numerous imagined utopi, each different from someone else's. Beliefs about the world and the nature of reality run the full range. There really isn't "a" village to raise your kid; just vague imaginations about what community values should be. Some are almost orphans while mom and dad poke at their phones, but others staring obsessively at the screen are kids.
People choose fascination. People choose illusion. And so, I welcome you to the grand illusion, life at the end of the age, life as a citizen of GAFA, that is, Google-Amazon-Facebook-Apple. Its not all bad, its just that it is so empty-calorie, so mundane. Is this all there is?
One of the highest callings is to be a parent, and, therefore, your kid's go-to person for moral questions.
So many voices; so many ideas. How shall we live? Where can we find answers that are more than just opinions? If we're trapped in a great illusion, how do we find the exit?
Blind or Seeing?
There is a true story we should think about. It is in the ninth chapter of the gospel of John. Jesus passes by a man who is blind. He's been blind from birth. Everyone there is used to his presence. He's always in his place. They've forgotten how long he's been there. But Jesus sees him, and Jesus' attention toward him draws the disciple's attention. Not processing well the human human condition or having empathy for the blind, they pose a theological question. Who sinned that this man was born blind?
Jesus' answer surprises them: None of the above. It was not that this person sinned while still a baby in the womb, nor that his parents had sinned. This man had not been born blind as a divine punishment. He was not cursed of God. Rather, Jesus tells them, "it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him" (John 9:3).
He had been born blind because he, as we are, was born into a world of sin. He was born into a world in which fallen angels influence humans, and in which the great chain of consequence links one deed with another. A world then thousands of years downstream from Eden with declines in health, mutations in DNA, and increasing genetic defects. God did not will that this man or anyone be born blind. But God permitted it. If He always intervened we would never see the badness of sin, for its consequences would all be intercepted and rectified.
But Jesus is come, and in this case God does see fit to intervene. He does not heal the man directly, but commands him to go to a certain place and wash. In other words He gives the man a test of obedience. The blind hears the command and immediately sets out to obey it. He washes in the place that Jesus commands. When he followed Jesus' command, his vision was renewed!
The next 21 verses recount the story of the investigation of this man's identity, the confirmation that he was born blind, his being questioned then thrown out of the synagogue.
Our interest today is more in the last seven verses of the story, John 9:35-39.
Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man'? He answered, 'Who is He Lord, that I may believe in Him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him, and He is the One who is talking to you.' And he said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped Him. And Jesus said, 'For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind' (John 9:35-39).
Jesus cares. Jesus heard what was done to this person. Jesus sought him out. Who was busier than Jesus? But Jesus heard what had happened and made it a point to find this man.
When He found him, He didn't keep things at the level of small talk. He asked him the biggest question He could ask him: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
Few today would think this the largest question. The largest question is calculated from a secular standpoint. Will artificial intelligences wipe out human life? Will human-triggered climate-change render parts of the planet uninhabitable? Will a passing asteroid strike the earth? Will dangerous new bird-viruses cross over and kill big patches of the population? Will Justin Bieber tweet a new photograph of himself?
The man had been blind his whole life until the past few days. Jesus sought him out: "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
The Big Question
The biggest questions we face are not impersonal. They are personal. The Bible shows us God is a personal Being. There is one God but there are three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus is a real person. Jesus is the Son of Man. The ultimate question is the same for us individually. Do I believe on the Son of Man?
That is the question that is not to be asked. How do I relate to the Creator? How do I relate to God who became creature and died on the cross to satisfy the penalty for my sins, and who rose again and who is alive today and whose primary activity today in all the cosmos is to work to open my eyes?
There are other forces. Angels originally created pure and holy. But God gave them something He gave also to us: free will. Some decided they were as smart as God, they, mere creatures, should have the rights of God too. Some rebelled against the goodness of His rule. God did not immediately blot them out of existence which He could have in a blink. None would have known. In a thought He could have simply willed them out of existence and they would have been eliminated. He could have stripped from the minds of those who remained any memory of the existence of the rebels.
But all of God's infinite power is mediated by the fact that He is a being who has moral lines. He has infinite wisdom and He knows what right is and what wrong is. He is good in His essence and He refuses to act wrongly. He understood that that convenient solution would not only be evil in itself, but that it would never solve the probelm of free beings choosing right and wrong in a moral universe. The sin problem must have an enduring solution. No resets. So God works. He waits. He acts through His agents, angels who have not rebelled, and who else? Humans. People. You and I! He demonstrates what happens when people believe on the Son of Man. He works in terms of evidence, changed lives. The consequence of evil compared to the consequence of good. He provides evidence.
God provides evidence. Satan hides evidence. The fallen angrels led by Lucifer are also very busy. Again, the big questions are not about climate chnage or Justin Bieber. The biggest question is will these humans made in God's image believe on the Son of Man?
These fallen angels work to their utmost to confuse, to distract, to make busy every soul. Their goal is to prevent us from seeing the beauty of truth. The world is out of order. Things are not right. Things aren't fitting right. Cancer doesn't fit here. Why is it here? Blindness doesn't fit in a perfect creation. Why is it here? A melted-down nuclear reactor vessel contaminating the Pacific Ocean doesn't fit here. Why is it here? Confusion about male and female isn't part of God's plan in the created order. Why is it here?
These fallen angels influence us as much as they can. They lead us if they can to choose sin, to choose to disregard God's revealed will. Sin can triumph only by enfeebling the mind and destroying the liberty of the soul. That is their work. To lead us to choose wrongly, to choose distortion, to choose what will reduce us from the moral to the animal.
They are fighting against God. They seek our destruction. This is not theoretical. This is not a future contest. The race is on and every single one of us is headed for the finish line.
God loves us and is working to change us, to help us choose His ways, the ways of life. Do you believe in the Son of Man? This is the biggest question.
When Jesus asked him this question, the man whose eye defect was corrected, said, "Lord, I believe." And he bowed down right there in the road in front of Jesus and he worshipped Him.
He saw the beauty of truth. Not the physical appearance of Jesus but the generous goodness of Jesus' act in healing Him. He had been blind. Now he could see.
This is why Jesus in our Scripture says, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind."
Here is the baseline: God gives sight to those willing to receive sight. He reveals moral beauty, clarity about right and wrong. He heals. He changes lives. He lurks quietly along the sides of our lives working and making opportunities and intervening and opening doors, shining light. And we choose. We choose our questions. And one day we are parents zooming through life at breakneck speed, age lines coming in, hairline receding, kids transforming into adults before our eyes. And we look round ourselves and see we've been missing the questions that matter.
Its not bad when we see that. Its good. Because this is exactly why Jesus came into our world. Yes, to die for us, to make atonement for us, but first, so that those who do not see may see.
Thank you all for being the kind of parents who wanted your kids to come to Vacation Bible School. Thank you for being the kind of people who would help out to make VBS happen. Thank you for being thinkers, for letting your brain live outside the box of secular thought. Thank you for living up to your moral component, for being open and interested in truth. Thank you for seeking life in a world that's mostly about death.
Thank you for being interested in the moral, for caring about right and wrong. And thank you that you want to help kids find truth in a world of lies.
The source for truth is not in ourselves. It is in God. God intervened in our world to give an inspired book unlike any other, the Bible. He put that in your hands. When a man, when a woman, surrenders to Christ, that is when there is freedom. When the creature admits he is a creature and bows before His Creator, then there is freedom. When the designed combines His life with the Designer, then there is wholeness.
So what will it be? Reality or illusion? The world as it authentically is, or as others have portrayed it? Jesus came to disabuse people of their illusions. He came to change people's view of God. The grand illusion: we can embrace it and become part of it, or, we can seek truth in a world that laughs at truth. The illusion won't last. Its already over.
Jesus wants to touch our eyes.
May we seek that touch, and may we learn more about Jesus from the Bible and from a personal communication with Him in our day to day life. And may we have the answers we need to help our children be freed from a cold and empty human view of the world they inhabit.
Chewelah WA SDA 2017-08-12