Now you see it…
Have you ever been driving in a familiar area, and noticed something you’d never seen before, though it obviously was there all along? I recall this happening once as I drove my daughter and a friend through very familiar territory near the friend’s home. As we turned onto the oft-traveled country road, all at once, as if scripted, we all three looked to the right and noticed a horse grazing in a beautiful rolling pasture of green. There was a brook at the bottom of the hill, and another hill rising up behind that one. I’ve seen framed art that wasn’t as captivating as that scene was. We all commented on the fact that we’d been by that spot many, many times, and never really noticed the beauty that was waiting there that day.
How could that happen? Why didn’t we see it before? There was no problem with our vision that suddenly had been corrected. Did the scene itself change from unremarkable to remarkable? There could have been some changes, of course, in the hues and obviously the location of the horse, but the landscape itself had been there in some form since the dawn of time. What changed? I submit that a moment occurred wherein all the necessary conditions were met that allowed three people to simultaneously be struck by the same beauty. Not being a believer in randomness at all, I am sure God had a purpose in crafting that experience ahead of time.
Not the first time
I had a parallel experience almost twenty-seven years ago. Having possessed a Bible that I had read with some regularity, I had passed by the experience of the early Church numerous times, but never noticed some aspects of what happened to them, and what they said about its relevance to future generations. I was unaffected by that portion of the Word of God, until about this time of year all those years ago, when I met someone who had been affected by it — someone who had experienced what I had assumed along with many, many others to have phased out after the era of the original apostles, years down the line.
Brought to a point of seeing something in the Word of God I’d never seen before, I had to make a choice as to what response I would give: continuing to drive by and acting as though I’d not seen it, or incorporating the new knowledge into my overall response to God himself. Thankfully, I chose the latter, and can say along with Robert Frost of “the road less traveled by”, that has made all the difference.
More eyes than mine
I have recently had the joyous opportunity of seeing other people experience this same phenomenon, to discover that what they assumed wouldn’t be relevant for them was in fact the very thing they’d searched for all their lives.
Often people overlook an answer because of the place where it’s waiting, that appears to them as though it simply couldn’t be anywhere they could find what they needed. This tendency reminds me of myself looking for my car keys and going over and over the only places I was sure I had been with them. It’s embarrassing to think how many repetitions of such a totally unproductive “solution” to my problem I’ve gone through, then to finally give up and start looking everywhere. Only then could I discover the keys in an unlikely place, and remember how something had happened to derail me from putting them where I usually do (OK, so I admit I’m just getting really absent-minded!).
A church that teaches holiness, righteous living, and separation from the world is often the very last place some would look for their answers. Once all other options are exhausted, however, and desperate to have more of what God wants for them – his answer to their life’s problem, whatever it looks or sounds like or wherever it is – they finally begin to see what he was preparing for them all the time: joy, love and power to live righteously and godly in this present world, and how to have that.
It’s at the church that is doing what the very first church did – teaching repentance (turning from our sins), water baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission (forgiveness and cleansing) of sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, as actually happened to people in Acts chapter 2, chapter 10 and chapter 19, among other places. This fulfills the birth of water and Spirit Jesus talked about in John chapter 3 (3:5), as being necessary for seeing or entering into the Kingdom of God, and was preached as being a promise “unto you, and to your children and all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Sounds like all of us forever, to me.
What do you see?
Does this just sound like so much “partisanship” (if that term can be applied to ideas related to Christianity)? Splitting hairs? I submit to you that I have seen with my own eyes that there is a reality in obeying this original doctrine, that it really matters what you believe, and how you practice it, though many would say otherwise.
Let me know what you think. What have you seen that was really “there all the time”?
I’ll try to reply to each comment, or answer any questions you may have. Thanks for reading!