Saturday, May 24, 2014

Glowey Moey

Moses and His Mistranslated "Horns of Light"
          I get a kick out of the way people sometimes treat me differently because I am a pastor.  It’s kind of funny what happens when people find out what I do.  Some people will watch their language more when I’m around, afraid of offending me by some slip of the tongue.  Others will make sure they tell some off-color joke when I’m around, just to see what I’ll say or do in response to their level of humor.  Some will push me to the front of the line.  In some churches, I would be referred to as “Pastor Greg,” “Pastor Smith,” “Reverend Smith,” or simply as “Pastor.”  Some of these distinctions can be good.  Some are bad, when the minister is literally set on a pedestal above the rest.  Some are indifferent.  I do always find it interesting, though, the way people treat ministers differently.
Some pastors wear clerical church all the time, separating themselves from the laity, and others never do.  I only ever owned one clerical shirt, and only wore it for certain occasions.  It was good for making late-night hospital visits, or visiting someone whom I’d never met before, or mental institutions.  It was good for that because people could immediately look at me and know that I’m a minister, so no matter what state of mind they’re in, the symbol communicates why I’m there.
I remember one time when I was at another church, I went to visit a church member who was in the mental ward of a local hospital.  On the way to the parking deck, I was in the elevator.  The elevator stopped at the next floor down, and a middle-aged couple got on.  Their eyes looked tired and red from crying.  As soon as the door shut, the woman looked at me, saw my collar and the Bible I was carrying, and immediately gushed out all of her emotions.  They were there visiting a relative who was not expected to live.  She asked if I would pray for them, and I assured them I would.  It was a short visit…just a minute or so on the elevator.  But when she looked at me, she KNEW that I represented God, and poured out her concerns to me.
It was an event that really affected me.  Probably more than it did her.  It really sobered me to realize how much I am a visible representation of God on earth.  People who didn’t even know me could look at me and see that I was a symbol of Jesus, just because I was wearing that collar.  Then I got to thinking, what would it be like if ALL CHRISTIANS were immediately recognizable as representatives of God here on earth?  What if we all wore huge cross necklaces and everybody knew that we were Christians?  How would our behavior change?  You’ve heard of the Mark of the Beast, in the book of Revelation?  Followers of the Anti-Christ will have a mark of some kind on their hand or forehead.  What if all Christians bore a visible mark—the Mark of the Lamb?  What would be the effect of being immediately recognizable as a Christian? 
In Exodus 34.29-35, we read about a man whose relationship with God could be seen on his face.  When Moses went up to the mountain to hear from God, he came back down, and his face literally glowed with the radiance of God’s glory.  They could all tell that he had been with God, because “Glowey Moey” was actually shiny!  It was more than the red glow of a face that has sunburn—Moses emanated the brightness of God’s presence!  What a remarkable thing, to be so close to God that you actually glow!  Now, I’ve never seen anybody who physically glowed from being with God, no one who shone like a light bulb.  But I have seen people who glow from the inside out, because of the relationship they have with God.  I want to be one of those people.
          Do you remember the little children’s song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”?  In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
 Now, Moses was a good leader, a wise man, and a holy prophet.  But he didn’t always do what he was supposed to do.  The Bible says that he covered his face so that the people would not see his glow.  God had allowed Moses’ face to shine, as a symbol of the close relationship Moses had with God.  It would bolster the people’s confidence in Moses as their God-appointed leader.  But Moses did not want to frighten the people, and he put a veil over his face.  In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul writes, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit .”  He also says, “When one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed (3:16).”  Moses was not supposed to hide the brightness of his face from the people; he was supposed to let his light shine.
One of the most remarkable things anybody has ever said to my mother happened when we were eating at Shoney’s.  A woman was watching my mother as she interacted with us at supper.  As she was getting up to leave, the woman put her hand on my mother’s arm and looked into her eyes.  “I know this sounds strange,” she said, “but when I look at you, I see Jesus.”  What an amazing testimony about the way a person can witness without saying a word! 
Our faces are not to be veiled.  Our candles are not to be hid.  Jesus said we are to let our light shine forth!  Can other people see Jesus in you?  Can total strangers see a glow on your face?  A sparkle in your eyes because of the relationship you have with the Living God?  Let it be our prayer that Jesus would make us glow for all the world to see, that he would set our souls afire! 

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