Friday, December 23

Advent 2011

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words


             We have all heard and perhaps uttered this truism and although we can't always explain what it means, we know it when we see it.  When did mankind first have that "ah-ha" moment when the meaning of the phrase hit us like a ton of bricks?

             No one can know, but consider this:  For several centuries a religious tradition believing in an all-powerful, all-knowing God, one of both love and judgment, flourished in lands of the Eastern Mediterranean.  It honored a monotheistic God, a God above all gods, a God whose commandments taught his people the way to live according to a set of rules - good rules indeed, but legalistic ones, implying that to live within those Ten Commandments was to achieve the fullness of what God expects of us.

This belief system became the dominant theology of the people of Israel, yet it was hardly dominant outside a small portion of the known world.  And as it matured as an organized religion, it became encumbered by the imperfection of human interpretation of God's intent.  It got bogged down in a maze of laws, rules and regulations, and minutiae which detracted from its larger mission.  It, like many institutions, became inwardly focused and irrelevant to many.  It was not  fulfilling the mission that God had for his people.

What to do?  What God did was the same thing a loving parent would do. He found a way to speak to us in a way we could understand - by becoming one of us.  He sent Christ to live among us.  Christ didn't simply speak the word, he lived the Word - full of love, goodness, truth, grace, generosity, pardon, and dozens of other attributes we attribute to God. He patiently instructed us in the full meaning of God's will for his people:

Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . .

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

For as much as you have done this for one of the least among us, you have done it for me.

A new commandment I give you:  As I have loved you, love one another.

He was sent to God's people to tell them of a new way to live according to God's will.  He became a tangible and visible example of God's love and his purposes for our lives.  We heard his words and tried to absorb what they meant.  Then we saw it unfold in his life and actions, and we got it.  The "ah-ha" moment arrived. That picture was indeed "worth a thousand words" - when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

- Lamar Davis


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