Monday, March 4, 2013

The Gaze of God

From Messiah Lutheran Church's March 2013 newsletter...

The residents of Alki are up in arms. At a recent Seattle city council hearing, many gathered to express their concerns over a camera surveillance system being installed on the shores of West Seattle. The city has received a federal homeland security grant to be on the lookout for potential terrorist threats. Nevertheless, most of the residents who were present at the meeting felt that this was an invasion of privacy or even one step away from a police state.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not all that up in arms about security cameras being installed in public places. I understand the safety concerns that exist and the benefits of modern technology to track down criminals or terrorists. I want the authorities to be on the lookout for the “bad guys.” And yes, I understand the potential for misuse and abuse. I guess at this point, I’m not all that concerned that those cameras are tracking down a law-abiding citizen like myself. Maybe I’m na├»ve, but if I’m in a public place, minding my own business, I don’t care who is watching me. I don’t have anything to hide.

When you know you are being watched, you are more inclined to do the right thing. You know you should do the right thing or face the consequences. But what about when you get behind closed doors? Do you have anything to hide there? It’s been said that “the real you” is the person you are when no one is watching. What choices do you make when you are all by yourself? Those choices may not be illegal according to the civil law. But what about according to God’s Law? Moreover, you cannot be arrested for your lawless thoughts. No security camera can look beyond the closed doors of your mind. But God can. He knows the deepest, darkest thoughts of your mind and intentions of your heart.

The LORD said through the prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds” (Jer. 17:9-10). You and I cannot escape the eyes of God upon both our outward deeds and our inward thoughts. We cannot hide from his gaze. We deserve his judgment.

On Good Friday, God the Father gazed upon his Son at the cross. Although Jesus never had a sinful word, a sinful act, a sinful thought, the Father looked at him as if he had. Our sins and the sins of all people of all time were laid upon Jesus. Jesus was judged for our sin. And because of that, the Father turned his back on Jesus. He directed his gaze away from his Beloved Son. The innocent Son of God was abandoned on behalf of us sinners and cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt. 27:46). Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death, and the devil. Scripture says that he was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Now, all who are baptized into Christ and trust in his work at the cross on their behalf have their sins washed away. Every sin. Sins of deeds. Sins of words. Sins of thought. Every single sin of yours is washed away and covered with the righteousness of Christ. You are justified. You are declared not guilty. And because of that, God the Father can gaze upon you once again, not in judgment, but with favor, grace, mercy, and love for the sake of Jesus.

In Christ’s service and yours,
Pastor Onken    

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