Monday, March 26, 2012


Hide-n-seek is a game I haven't played in years. It's not like this is a hobby after you've made it through grade school. As far as I know, there aren't any hide-n-seek leagues sponsored by the city. You won't find this as an Olympic event, nor do I foresee it becoming popular with the X-games. Seeing as how I don't have any children right now, it's likely I won't be playing again for several years either. Now, I do have two adorable nephews that love to hang out and play games with me. But it seems they are more interested in technological advances like the Nintendo Wii. (And since you are now curious, yes, my 7 year old nephew can beat me at many games on the Wii.)

Growing up, hide-n-seek was a game my brother and I would often play. Of course, I was always so eager to be the one to hide (it was the far superior aspect of the game). Being the younger sibling, it was rare my older brother would allow me to hide first. But this time was different. This time he was kind enough to let me begin the game by hiding. It was only later I found out this was a ploy.

Before I get into the story, I need to set the scene. Josh, my brother, is five years my elder. Since we grew up in a house with two working parents, we were often relegated to spending quality (I use this term loosely) time with each other. I always had to tag along with my big brother, as is customary for any younger sibling. It usually wasn’t because I liked his friends or really even wanted to go with them. Rather, my motivation was to annoy and terrorize them. You may find it difficult to believe, but I used to be a bit of a punk (not so much anymore, right?). Let me give you an example. As you might have guessed, we were two typical boys growing up. As typical boys, we were prone to wrestle and fight. However, when he wound up getting the best of me, or I realized I was incapable of winning, I would become vicious. Usually I would choke him or give him a cheap shot to the groin. At this point, I would release a deafening scream which always resulted in my mother coming to my rescue, inevitably finding Josh on my chest, beating the snot out of me. After the altercation was broken up, it never failed he would get a lecture about being older and more mature. This, I always found quite amusing; which was obvious from the smirk on my face when my mother's back was turned.

Now, back to this game of hide-n-seek. On this particular day, I found the perfect hiding spot, nestled beneath a pile of blankets between the couch and the wall. It seemed like I was hiding for eternity. But I was committed to the win and would not give up. Minutes of hiding turned into hours and eventually I dozed off. Only after my parents came home and found me (quite easily may I add), did I wake.

This game of hide-n-seek is nothing new. The very first account of hide-n-seek is recorded in Genesis. We find an epic game in which Adam and Eve have set themselves against God. The reason I know this is evident by the fact that the Bible plainly tells us, "they hid from the Lord God among the trees." Now, most of us read this and probably think hiding from God is such a ridiculous notion. But, if we are willing to admit it, we play the same game today. It seems to me, this is evidenced most in our initial reaction when we screw up. We break a few of the commandments; we ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit; we take off in the opposite direction God is leading us. And what do we do? We, just like Adam and Eve, hide in shame and fear. And just like the game between my brother and I, we will not give up. All because we have convinced ourselves the most difficult times to turn to God and embrace Him occur right after our rebellion. Often, we find ourselves running from Him, our hearts full of fear. We avoid our quiet times in prayer. We allow our Bible to sit on our night stand and collect dust. Convinced that God doesn’t want to face us at that point. All because the infraction is so fresh.
And this is not the reaction God is looking for!

You see, in the Genesis account, God was still looking and calling out for them. He still sought Adam and Eve, even though they had been tainted with sin. Even though they wanted nothing to do with God at that point. And in light of Scripture, I am reminded that when I sin against God, there is no need to hide in fear. Because of the cross of Jesus Christ that fully paid for the punishment of my sin, I may approach His throne of grace with boldness (Hebrews 4:16). I may turn to God in my time of brokenness, trusting that His grace is sufficient (Psalm 51:16-17). Even if there is discipline, it should (this being the key) bring me joy since I know that God is treating me as one of his dearly loved children (Hebrews 12:7). 

Therefore, even though we may be tempted to run from God when we sin against Him, we must realize that God’s desire is for us to draw close to Him (James 4:8).  Let us not be afraid to turn to God in this, our greatest hour of need. Remember that His sacrifice paid for our sins, and He offers us reconciliation and freedom--from whatever we have done and from fear.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

JESUS, Part 3

While there was a lot of confusion as to who Jesus really was back in the day, I have to admit over 2,000 years the Jesus puddle has gotten quite a bit murkier. On one occasion, the Bible gives us a glance at the confusion surrounding this Jesus. This particular encounter (Luke 9:20) is as follows:

One day as Jesus was alone, praying, he came over to his disciples and asked  them, “Who do people say I am?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead.”
Then he asked them, “Who do you say I am?”

If you ask me, this sounds like a loaded question. Jesus, the God-Man, asking who he is. The way I see it, Jesus says this, "you have been with me and know me, do you believe who the people say I am or is there something more to me?” Then He comes out and point blank asks to them, “Who do you say I am?” No beating around the bush here (I really like that about Jesus…most of the time). 

And to this, Peter, gives a great Sunday school answer. His response reminds me of a lame joke involving a young boy in his Sunday School class. His teacher asked the class what is gray, bushy-tailed, hangs out in trees and loves nuts. To this the boy informs the class that it sounds an awful lot like a squirrel, but since they are in Sunday School, the answer must be Jesus. (I warned you it was lame.) Here, Peter gives Jesus a similar answer, quite possibly regardless of what he actually believed himself. And Peter tells him “You are the Messiah sent from God!” Now, I’m curious if Peter was fully aware what that phrase, “Messiah sent from God” even meant.

If confronted with the same question today, I fear that many of us would give a similar Sunday School response. Although it is true, that He is the Messiah sent from God, do we know the implications of that title? Do we really know more about Jesus? Have we moved beyond proper and respectful titles to find out who He really is? Do we realize this Messiah, Jesus, is much more than the savior of our sins?

Take a minute and ask yourself these questions. Who do the crowds say He is? Who do your co-workers say He is? Who do the people on the street say He is? Who does American society say He is? Who does the church say He is? And perhaps the most pertinent question of all, who do you say He is? 

If you’ve answered those to your satisfaction, by all means, continue reading.

There are many different views of Jesus. You may find this hard to believe, but some of us view Jesus the way He has been portrayed in the Jesus films. A calm, cool, collected, politically correct individual with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a pale complexion. In case you hadn't heard this, let me be the first to tell you that this physical description of Jesus is not accurate. Jesus was, afterall, a Jew living in Israel. That means he looked more, well, middle eastern. Some people think he was somewhat of a philosopher, debating and philosophizing (I think I just made up a word) the issues of the day. Others view Jesus as a social activist--someone voicing the concerns for the underdog, the less-fortunate, and the non-religious. Yet some view Jesus as some sort of psychic. Others think of Him as a pacifist, or a political activist for poverty.  There are even some that believe Jesus was a homosexual because of statements made about John, the disciple, “whom he loved.” Some think of Him as a great moral teacher, while others view Him as a nut case.

Let me tell you who America thinks Jesus is. If the research is accurate, what Americans believe about Jesus is quite muddled. For the most part, they believe in the reality of this Jew who, 2,000 years ago, proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, but beyond that there is much confusion.

A survey of 1,054 adult residents of the United States conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University found that 75 percent “absolutely believe” Jesus was a real person. Sixteen percent said they “mostly believe” in His historical reality, 5 percent “do not believe” and 4 percent remain uncertain.

But what we, Americans, accept about Jesus is even more complex than that. 
Nearly one out of five people don’t believe that Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary--60 percent said they “absolutely believe” Jesus was born to a virgin, 16 percent mostly believe and 5 percent are uncertain.

Americans have slightly more confidence that Jesus “died and physically rose from the dead,” with 63 percent saying they “absolutely believe” this central theme of the Easter story. But, surprisingly, adults in the poll were more likely to conclude that “Jesus was the Son of God” and that “Jesus was divine” for which absolute belief was at 69 percent and 67 percent, respectively than to believe the biblical accounts of his birth and death.

Are you like most Americans? Is the person of Jesus surrounded by a shroud of mystery?