“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” This age-old proverb has stood the test of time. Isn’t it true of a picture? You go to an art museum and look at the Van Gogh's and the DaVinci’s and Michelangelo’s. Each stroke of the brush says so much. In each brushstroke of the painter dwells a paragraph of the artist’s thoughts.

Let’s say, we want to learn to play the guitar. Just to explain how to hold the chord hand would take a page of writing, not to mention the words to explain the hand that picks strings. But you get a book and it shows you photos of the places on the neck that make certain chords, and which strings and what frets to use. An illustrated guitar book is a thousand times better than a book with only words.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth a million words. On a DVD you see the hand actually move from one chord to the other, the slight adjustments up and down the neck. You see the fingers picking or strumming at the exact timing of the chord hand to produce the correct coordination for making beautiful music. You can learn much faster with a moving picture than still photos because you have a living example to watch.

Yet there is an even better teacher than just the written word, or a picture or even a motion picture. That is having a living person right in front of you, a private teacher to coach you just when you make a mistake. This person can answer questions, on the spot, as they come to your mind. This mentor encourages you and compliments you, which someone who was taped on a DVD can’t do, because the DVD person doesn’t know you. What more can you ask for? Learning will be very rapid now!

Yet there is a better situation to learn from. What if you have a living person who is your best friend, who loves to be with you and you love to be with that friend. This isn’t just any teacher or mentor, even if your friend and a generic guitar teacher know the guitar equally well. The added element of love, close friendship brings in a whole new dimension to learning.

Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians says something similar in regard to learning to be good. He said we are all born bad, real bad. Rom. 3:19 says the world stands guilty and mute before God. In Rom. 7:14 we hear Paul—Saint Paul—saying that he is carnal and sold under sin. We inherited and have all our life indulged a fallen nature. We are as guilty of what we have become as our parents and grandparents and great grandparents—all the way back to Adam and Eve.

The nature we were born with is totally unholy. It doesn’t naturally desire to be like Jesus or to obey God’s law. Our first birth was greatly flawed, which is why we desperately need what God had provided—another birth. The second birth gives us a divine nature from the Holy Spirit that loves to obey Gods’ law and it wants to be just like Jesus.

Rom. 8:3 says that the written words of God’s law couldn’t give us obedience, even though they were designed to. Gal. 3:21 says that righteousness—being good, perfect and loving under all circumstances—should be the product of hearing the Law’s instructions that describe the holy life, how to live as a Christian. It should have been enough and would have been if we had had the willingness to accept correction.

But anyone who still has the fallen human nature quickly finds out that an inborn rebellion rises up at the thought of being told to conform to the lifestyle of angelic perfection. “Nobody tells me what to do! I’m my own boss!” Pure pride rules the fallen human nature at its deepest levels—Satan’s gift to mankind.

But God, in His infinite mercy, because He wants to have us back and to live with us for the rest of eternity has provided an alternative method to His holy Law. He gave pictures in nature that make it easier to accept the lessons of righteousness, as trees, rocks, birds and bees minister to the life of other creatures. Nature should have been enough to teach us about self-sacrificing love. But we failed to study it and see the spiritual lessons there.

Then He sent prophets, living examples of the holiness He wanted us to see and receive into the heart. He sent real people with the same infirmities as we have, and who suffered at the hands of the people they came to teach perfect surrender and obedience. But even they weren’t enough to convince us to submit the heart to God.

So last of all God gave us the perfect teacher—One who loved us because He had personally formed our first father from the ground and bent over him, breathing life into his nostrils. His every act was love—every touch, every look, every work of encouragement. He befriended people, and then introduced precepts of His Father’s law. Everything was encapsulated in love.

This living example of love by the Son of God was absolutely the best that God could give us. He sent Him who was the joy of the angelic hosts. He sent all heaven in one gift to this desperately corrupt world, in the very territory claimed by His ferocious adversary. This is enough—Christ is the best teacher if we are ever going to learn to be holy.

“All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me ; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” (Jn. 6:37). If we will look at Him, study Him, let Him do a miracle with our hearts thru this Holy Spirit, then He will lead us into such a surrender to Him that in doing His will we will be fulfilling our own. He has become our mediator for the Law’s condemning disposition to our imperfections. But He will also lead us up higher and higher to His character, which is the goal of the Law. He will lead us to living fountains of water. His rod and His staff will be a comfort to us.

If we fail with the Master Teacher there is no provision left to bring us to godliness and love. Let us go to Him and seek His influence over us from studying His Bible, through talking with Him, and sharing with others what good things we’ve learned of Him and that He has done for us.


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