2 Corinthians 4:3-6
4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
I love being on Mountain tops, literally and proverbially.
I never had trouble understanding that God spoke to Moses on the mountain.
And I have always experienced the outdoors as therapeutic, giving me new strength, helping me leave things behind, reconnecting me with God’s creation.
But I have always known that eventually I would have to cone off the mountain again, usually so I can find my way back to the parking lot before nightfall. It’s a lot easier to find the trail during daylight hours. And when the days get shorter, the window for an ascent also gets smaller.
But being in the mountains all the time would also be some kind of escapism from real life. Like moving into a Club Med resort to live there permanently. Life isn’t just vacations but life consists of eating our bread by the sweat of our face (Genesis 3:17ff), of navigating moral issues, of real and sometimes difficult relationships, and in the process to learn to be honest with ourselves and others, live in truth, ask and grant forgiveness, and remember that God is God and we are not. And eventually the days of climbing mountains come to an end. God says to Adam and Eve, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Have you ever wondered when successful athletes thanked God for their success whether they would also know God’s presence in defeat, and whether they’d perhaps know that God isn’t about success anyway, at least not the kind that we devise and demand.
And so that’s the issue.
So when Peter wants to stay, he really wants to stay at Club Med.
But it’s an easy thing to want. I think we all do, too; perhaps especially since we haven’t been able to travel.
In our reading from 2 Corinthians Paul talks about the Gospel being veiled and some being blind. That is because they mistake the things they want for the things that are of God.
It’s easy to do to think that God would want the things we want. That’s why later Peter said that he didn’t want Jesus to die.
Yet we learn from Paul and from John that when we see Jesus, we see God, and that God’s glory is revealed in Jesus.
The glory of God isn’t only revealed on the mountain. The mountain only shows us that even Moses and Elijah bow to Jesus. The glory of God is revealed on the cross. Why on the cross?
Paul writes earlier,
27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’
That God chose that which is foolish means that privilege has nothing to do with being godly. Rather God is found among the foolish, low, and despised.
There is a beautiful prayer for the first Sunday in Lent I want to finish with. Please pray with me.
God, whose hands have molded the earth;
bring us to that place of discernment
that we may never mistake the tinsel of the world
for your glory,
nor bow to that which is evil,
nor offer stones to those who hunger for bread,
but rather, serve you with a Sabbath mind
and worship you only;
through Jesus Christ, your word near us. Amen.