Thursday, March 6, 2014

What do YOU see?

When I was growing up my mother would read the books from the Dinotopia series to me before I went to bed.  In the second book in the series, The World Beneath, the characters are travelling through a subterranean cave when they encounter a stalagmite formation, depicted in the illustration above.

Each character sees something different.  The scientist sees a natural formation created by hundreds of years of chemical erosion and weathering.  The thief sees the gruesome visage of a skull.  The dreamer sees the image of a mother comforting her children.

Depending on our upbringing, our values, our beliefs, we all see the world in a different light.  This is true even in our studying of God's Word.

Hebrews 4:12 states, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

The Word of God means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  But it essentially comes down to two very basic viewpoints:  The Bible is either the most comforting of books or the most terrifying.

Take this series of verses from Revelation for example:

Revelation 21:1-8  Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

To the Christian, this provides a great hope.  This New Jerusalem described by John sounds like a wonderful place!  Dwelling with God.  God wiping every tear away.  No more death nor sorrow nor crying.  No more pain.  All things made new!

But, to the nonbeliever, or the others described in the latter part of this section, this is a terrifying prospect!  The idea that we will be held accountable for the life we lived here on planet Earth does not sit well for those in a lost condition.

What do YOU see when you read these verses?  Do you despair at the idea of being judged by a just and righteous God?  Or do you rejoice at the great hope of an eternal home with your Maker?

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