Our Big God

Pastor Dan Haugen

Our Big God

November 3, 2013

 Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

At the last session on the last morning of his Philosophy class the professor turned and made the ritual gesture: “Are there any questions?” He was greeted with silence. The past ten weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now, there was only silence.

“No questions?” The professor swept the room with his eyes. Alas from the back row, “Professor, what is the meaning of life?” The usual laughter followed, and people stirred to go. The professor held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at the gentleman who asked the question for a long period of time, asking with his eyes if indeed the question was serious or in jest. “I will answer your question,” he said.

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into the leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went something like this:

“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place. “I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece; this one.
And by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

“I kept the little mirror, and as I went through life, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of light.

“I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world into black places in the hearts of men and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise.
This is what I am about. This is the meaning of life.”

I think we’ve all thought about what the answer might be to that question. Just what is the meaning of life?

I’ve been asked that question several times and have had time to contemplate and my answer is the same. Our time here on earth is not about us. It’s not about any greatness we can attain for ourselves. It’s about reflecting God’s light so that others may benefit from it.

The meaning of life is in what we can do for others in the name of Christ. Our greatest contentment in life should be  when we take the role of the servant. Our utmost happiness should be when the Kingdom of God is properly represented in what we do and who we are.

Jesus certainly seemed to agree. We have only to look at our Gospel text to see that. Blessed here is more correctly translated “happy.” Happy are the poor in spirit, happy are those who mourn, happy are the meek. Something doesn’t sound right, but the more you study and understand the way of God, the more sense it makes.

This is what the beatitudes are all about, the Kingdom of God represented in His children on earth. Our purpose in life is to love God and to love our neighbor and it has always been God’s purpose to be such a part of our lives that He can’t help but to shine through to others, enabling us so that we may enable others.

One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand.”

The mother said, “Oh? What is it?” The little girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the world in His hand. Is that true?” The mother replied, “Yes, that’s true, honey.”

“But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?” Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”

The little girl was wise. To her it made sense that a big God living in us should show through and she was right. It has always been God’s purpose to live in us in such a way that His light had no choice but to shine.

Yet, most days we do all we can to stifle that light. We’re scared that the light might be a little too bright for some people so we hide it in a cloak of neglect. We’re worried that people won’t like the light so, in our attempts to be accepted, we carry on as if the light has no part in us. And we, ourselves, get annoyed by the light so little by little we darken it with the sins we have come to find our comfort in and the Kingdom of God is left for another day.

The devil will do all he can in your life to snuff out that light. His meaning for our lives, exists in darkness and sin, ignorance and neglect.

He tries to convince us that we live to serve ourselves and he has been very successful in convincing us. It has been all too easy.

The devil helps to assure us that we are doing enough even though we know in our hearts we aren’t. He causes us to put on an attitude of righteousness so that we can hide the blackness in our hearts. He sways us into believing that it is better to do nothing at all, that it is far better to leave God’s work to others.

But, reflecting the Kingdom of God is not an attitude, it’s not about anything we can do apart from surrendering our lives to the source of that light. You can’t pretend and put on a façade of righteousness and expect to make it work. People of the world aren’t able to live the lives Christ describes in the beatitudes apart from a true faith, no matter how hard we attempt to, because no one can be Jesus like Jesus can. By the

Holy Spirit, He truly comes to live IN us that He might live through us to meet the needs of a hurting humanity. Our God is a big God and when His light shines through those who have Him as the source of light in their lives, others see the image of Christ shining through this veil of flesh. When the Kingdom of God is represented in you, you become blessed as you become a blessing.

Yet we fight it because the world convinces us to live for self. The winner is he who dies with the most toys, it’s good to be better than the Joneses, do all you can to get on the right side of the tracks. In our own selfish way, we yearn to make our own kingdom but it never serves as any more than a pail attempt to replace the true source.

Isaiah 57: 14-21 says, And it shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.” For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

 

God’s purpose for us can be found in these 12 verses in Matthew 5. Our Concordia study Bible says that “blessed” refers to the ultimate well-being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who share in the salvation of the kingdom of God. Blessed are the poor in spirit because God will work through others to build them up so that they may inherit the kingdom. Happy is the mourner because God will comfort you through His people. Joyful are those who are meek because God has promised you His inheritance. Blissful are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled. Content are the merciful, because you were merciful to others, they will show their mercy upon you. Pleased are those who are pure in heart, for eternal life is their inheritance. Exultant are the peacemakers because in the Holy Spirits work through them, they have achieved sonship with God. Fortunate are those who have been persecuted in their fight to keep God’s light shining for they have been given eternal life as a result.

 

All who call on the name of Christ will be blessed. All who carry that name as a shining light in their lives will be a blessing to others. God’s purpose, according to Romans 8:29, is for every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ and the verses in our Gospel lesson proclaim the qualities that are available to every Christian so that this might be done.

 

They are not standards for us to achieve, they are the evidence of a life that has surrendered itself to Christ. They are not produced by the Christian, but produced IN the Christian. They tell us what the world will see when the Kingdom of God is reflected in us. The beatitudes do not represent individual qualities, but a complete picture of a life controlled by God. They are the evidence of a life lived for Christ.

 

We are not to go through life worrying about whether we measure up. We are not to keep wondering if we are meek enough or merciful enough. Our focus rather, is that we continue to walk with Christ as His Holy Spirit works in us to achieve what only He can, through us. The beatitudes show us that if we are vengeful, or hurtful or vindictive, then we are not on the walk as we should be on and that we need to get back on the right path.

 

The happiest people in the world are those who yield themselves to the grace of God every day, because their inheritance is secured, they will be comforted and they will be filled with a God too big to be hidden. The happiest people are those who understand what God has done for them on the cross of Calvary and what He continues to do through them so that others might see Him for what He truly is.

Within Word and Sacrament, God operates through His Holy Spirit to work in us and through us in such a way that it becomes natural. By His love he gifts us with the ability to live for Him so that His light may reflect from us to others. This is the source of true happiness. This is when we are blessed in the greatest way.

Today you were all given a little mirror just like the professor treasured so much. I want you to look into it. Is the Holy Spirit working in that person in such a way that the Kingdom of God is reaching even the darkest places? Is the person you are looking at allowing God to so control his or her life that He has no choice but to be a reflection of Christ? You know what Christ looks like, His portrait is shown in our text. May this little mirror remind you of what the true meaning of life is and may the Holy Spirit give us His blessing. Amen

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