Paul has an enthusiasm for exploring the world of faith and spiritual well being, which he wishes to share through all that he writes.
God so loves the world.
The Gravity of the Situation
We are fallen. Or so they say. It is as if the Garden is somewhere way up there and we dwell somewhere way down here. But God's Garden is spread across the earth, and it is present in our own personal worlds. The fall may just be the lowering of our heads and our brows. We betrayed the trust of a loving God and we were ashamed. We disobeyed; we failed to follow some simple instructions, and then we tried to hide. But we were found, God calling to us by name.
We chose knowledge, not yet knowing that knowledge is a journey, a journey of learning, the most important lesson being that of God's love. Love is what God does; Love is what God is. Learning is about teaching, so we must learn how to be taught. Or maybe we just need to climb a few hills.
Instructions and Illuminations
There was a man whose name was Moses, and during one of the many remarkable episodes in his life, he found himself in the employ of his father-in-law as a shepherd. One day while on a hill tending his flock, he came upon an unusual sight. There was a bush that appeared to be on fire, but not actually burning, not being consumed. It must have been giving off enough light, however, to get the attention of Moses, and although it is nowhere reported, it may be likely that this light shone on him, perhaps enough to make him glow a bit. Moses moved closer to get a better look. He then heard a voice which told him that he was in the presence of the Lord God, the God of his fathers. Moses turned away and moved no closer.
God told Moses that there were some tasks required of him, difficult tasks involving leading a great number of people on a long journey into an unknown land. First he would have to go to the people and tell them about it. God's people were living under harsh circumstances during this time but that did not mean that they would be ready and eager to follow a man they did not know into parts unknown. Moses was not very enthusiastic about taking on such tasks and expressed his doubts. Why would the people follow him? Would they even listen? God told him to tell the people who it is who sends him and that He would be with him. God also told Moses that the people would listen to him. And as God had said, the people, many of whom were unenthusiastic themselves, did listen to him and they followed.
What the people heard from Moses were many rules and laws, instructions on how to live and proper ways to treat others. These instructions were coming from God and at times they seemed to have an edge to them. To the people this God of their fathers was a fearful God; there did not seem to be much love there. But when they were hungry, God through Moses led them to drink. When they were hungry, they were provided with fowl to hunt and a bread like substance, which could be collected and eaten. When the people were idle they were given tasks to perform, tasks that made use of their talents and strengths, providing satisfaction for them.
All this time, Moses was going off by himself to a hilltop where he would converse with God and then return to the people to relay what God had told him. As these communications continued, ideas concerning healing and kindness began to find their way into the conversations. At one point, Moses brought to the people a new commandment: they were to love God with all their hearts, to love God with their very beings
Moses had been spending much of his time in the presence of the Lord his God, and the people began to notice a change in his appearance when he returned. His face seemed to be glowing, and whether or not he glowed while facing the burning / not burning bush, he definitely did so now. The light he was giving off was enough so that many of the people turned away, so Moses began to wear a covering for his face while in the presence of the people, which he removed when he was in the presence of his Lord God.
The people continued to listen to him. And they followed.
Illuminations and Instructions
Many generations later another man whose name was Jesus was on a hill with three of his closest followers. Jesus had a large following because of his healing abilities and his teachings concerning the forgiveness of sins, salvation, and the kingdom of Heaven. He also had a smaller group of disciples, which the three who were with him at this time were a part of. It was on this hill that Jesus became transfigured, that is, he was brightly illuminated. his clothing becoming a dazzling white. His three companions then saw him conversing with two prophets of old, one of which was Moses himself. A cloud passed over, covering Jesus and his visitors. The three disciples heard a voice saying that the one inside the cloud was the beloved son and that they were to "Listen to Him."
When the cloud passed over, Jesus was again alone with his followers, and together they departed the hillside, The disciples were to listen to him, but was there anything else that he had to say that he had not said before?
One day a man, who may or may not have been a follower, but was a man well familiar with the laws set down by Moses, approached Jesus to ask him a question. He wanted to know which of the commandments did Jesus think was the greatest. Jesus told him that he should love God with all his heart, love God with all his mind, love God with all his soul and all his strength. He added that he should love his neighbor as he loves himself. The man departed, happy with the answer Jesus had given him.
Light and Lightness
The call to listen, as with the instructions to love God, was meant for our ears also. Jesus also tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He is teaching us that they are all basically the same thing. How can we not love ourselves; how can we not love others, while claiming to love God? Jesus is teaching us how to love like God loves. He is teaching us how to love the world. Loving ourselves is a starting point, and loving others, regardless as to who they are, whether or not they are like us, or if they share our beliefs, is the next step. Jesus is telling us not to turn away, not to hide, but to come closer and be in His presence, where we are able to raise our heads and lift our brows, and where we are able to shine.
As we lift our heads, we may see more of what surrounds us. With love in our hearts, we just may see the world a bit differently, seeing more of its hidden beauty. Could this be the garden that we are getting a glimpse of?
Being in the presence of Jesus, we may find ourselves at times bowing in reverence and humility, even getting down on bended knee. But it is in the sublime light and overwhelming love of Jesus Christ, that we are lifted.
And so does God love the world.
This article is express my own views and feelings concerning these biblical topics. It is not intended to contradict any other views or any beliefs based on them.
© 2018 Paul K Francis
Paul K Francis (author) from east coast,USA on July 17, 2019:
Thank you Justin for your positive words and your insightful thoughts. I can continue to learn from them. Have a great day.
Justin Aptaker from United States on July 14, 2019:
After reading the final paragraph here, one of my favorite scriptures came to mind: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." ~ John 12:32
I've always noted that in those words, Christ proclaims his mission to be a mission of reconciling people to Him/Love/God, rather than a mission of reconciling God to people. There was no need for the latter, as "God is Love", and has always been Love. I don't think Christ's sacrifice did anything to change the mind of God towards us.
On the other hand, there is no image I find more compelling than that of Jesus, naked, beaten, humiliated, and dying, all the while saying, "Father forgive them". Of course, the Father had already forgiven them from eternity past, and Jesus thus knew his prayer was in line with His Father's nature and intent all along.
But the point I'm trying to make here is that the image of the naked and abused Christ, "lifted up" on the cross, all the while desiring only the total well-being of those who had put Him there, is an image that I believe may surpass all others in its raw beauty. For me, it has prompted a visceral desire to be closer to that Man. Indeed, by being lifted up, He draws me to Him. "Behold the man".
Thank you for beautifully writing in a way that truthfully depicts the supreme beauty of the One you write about. His character is, at every turn, defiled and made into the image of man's cruelest imaginations. I'm truly grateful for your ability to see Him.
Paul K Francis (author) from east coast,USA on June 09, 2018:
I believe that we all glow in His Light. Thank you, Ioannis, For the kind words. Have a great day.
Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on June 06, 2018:
I can see a glowing here, my brother Paul, and I can feel that is your Glowing Heart, and I believe His Light is making it glow!
Paul K Francis (author) from east coast,USA on June 02, 2018:
Eric, I am glad you liked the article. Writing it charged me up! Thanks for reading. Have a great day.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 30, 2018:
Well pick me up and throw me down, kick dirt on me and spit in my eyes.
Francis this is just a great sermon. You just charged me up and made me remember my "fear" of God.
I am going to give a hard shot to love as our Christ does.