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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Truncate this!

Face-to-face conversation seems to be a thing we just don't engage in as much as we did in times long gone by.  Today's electronic age has helped us to "connect" with each other via all kinds of social media.  We text, IM, post, and tweet.  We abbreviate, truncate, and mutilate the human language to the point of LOL while we are ROFL with our BFF.  (For those not into this "truncated" IM language - we laugh out loud while we are rolling on the floor laughing with our best friend forever!)  The thing we really miss is the "connection" which occurs when two people actually stop long enough to look each other eye-to-eye and begin to notice the things those eyes tell us!

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 The Message)

So, in thinking about this "connection" via social media this week, I began to really wonder just how God makes connection with his children.  Could you imagine if he began truncating his word to us?  We'd probably get a "spiritual IM" reading:  FOYF while CYOW - ILYA!  (Fell on your face while choosing your own way - I love you anyway!)  Now, I am being plain silly here - God is not going to start sending us truncated messages - his words are clear and they are authoritative!

Looking at our passage, we find Paul taking time to write to the Corinthian church about the freedom which comes in finally recognizing the old way of religion under the Law is totally and completely obsolete.  In his closing remarks for the chapter, he pens these words.  Look at what he says:

- WHEN they TURN to FACE God...
- God REMOVES the veil and there they ARE - face-to-face....
- They suddenly RECOGNIZE that God is a living, PERSONAL PRESENCE...
- When God is PRESENT...
- We're FREE....
- Nothing BETWEEN us and God....
- Our lives gradually BECOMING brighter and more beautiful...
- As God ENTERS our lives and we BECOME like him...

Okay, I admit it - I just "truncated" God's word!  But...do you see what Paul is saying to us?  It is in the making of this face-to-face contact with God that we finally see God as he is and he helps us see ourselves for who we are in him!

Don't miss the words I put into all caps.  "When" we "turn" to "face" God.  The sentence suggests a willingness to take the time - "when" - it is conditioned on our action.  It also suggests another action - "turning" - from whatever we are doing to what he wants us to do at this very moment.  "Facing" another individual does much for both of the individuals involved in the encounter.  For example, I am free to see your body language.  I don't have the advantage of this when I simply text you!  I can "read" the undertones of your text, but seeing your body language and observing the emotion in your voice when we speak give me much more insight into the impact of your life's events!

It is God who "removes" the veil which keeps us from seeing both him as he is and us as we truthfully are.  Most of us are content with the veil because the veil covers a multitude of imperfections!  God knows until we see him as he is, we don't see ourselves as we are.  It is in the "recognition" of his living, vital connection with us that we begin to understand the capabilities of living with God as a "personal presence" in our lives.  The most important thing God wants us to see is not just his desire for us to be "real" with him, but the fact he will be at working setting us "free" by the continual renewing of our minds which comes when his presence is understood and embraced.

Nothing "between" us and God - now this is something most of us only hope for!  There is security in the veil - but when it is stripped away - we stand "naked" before God.  You know what?  It says there is nothing between us and God!  That means he is getting just as "intimate" with us as we are with him!  He is not afraid to let us see him as he really is! 

It is in this "intimate" exchange where we "become" more beautiful than we already are.  It is in God "entering" our lives that we become more like him.  He could force his way in - but we'd be affronted by this and would not be inclined to pay attention to him.  He could just pop in and out of our lives here and there - but we'd be put off by his inconsistencies.  The plan God has is quite different.  He "moves in" - entering our lives in such as way so as to take up residence in us!  He begins to invade the dark spaces of our lives with the brightness of his glory - until what we behold is no longer the darkness, but only his light!

Now, when we realize the significance of the face-to-face, doesn't it make us a little less inclined to "truncate" our connection with him?  Just sayin...