Pointing to God
“Honoring God and Pointing Up” Psalm 46; 1 Samuel 2:30
Where do you point? I am convinced that every life points to something You might be pointing to yourself. You might be saying, “Look at me! Look at me!” There are guys who want every girl to look at them and people who want everyone to look at them. There are those who live for all they can get- he who dies with the most toys win. They point to themselves. The problem with pointing to you is that while it may enjoy some looks or even gawks and shallow admiration, pointing at yourself does not engender deep love. Maybe you remember the movie “Gladiator” about the Roman general who was humiliated into a slave. He looked at the super selfish Roman emperor, “Commodius” and said, “The days for honoring yourself will soon be over.” Commodius was a real emperor- one of the worst of Roman history. He was a sharp contrast to his wise father Marcus Aurelius. He retreated from his enemies, he named months after himself, he wanted to change the name of Rome to “Colonia Commodiana”. He wanted to change the name of the army from “The Roman army” to the “Commodian Army.” His self absorbed lifestyle and extravagant palaces and giving bread to everyone almost bankrupted the empire. Eventually the Praetorian guards had him killed. Most tried to wipe Commodus name from all the monuments after his death. You cannot keep pointing to yourself and think everything will be okay.
Some point to their stuff- as if that will last forever. If you go to the more ancient parts of the earth- the middle east or Europe you will see what once were huge palaces that are now in ruins. You don’t have to go far in Chapin to see some old wooden structures that once were huge and nice in the 1800s but now are just ruins.
Some point only to others- family usually inherits our stuff and also our good and bad habits. Our families are our common worldly legacies. Today we are seeing the breakup of the family, and with it the breakup of the ones to whom we pass on our legacy. Families may fail or move or simply not want us to point to them. If you put a child or a relative in the place of God what if they get sick or die? Your family may appear to be your god, but any human god is fickle. Pointing to others is better than pointing to nothing- but it does not last.
Some point only to the past. They live in the black and white of the Good old Days. We can recreate the past in our minds where it is worse than it was or better than it was and live in bitterness or in a kind of wistful yearning for what used to be. Older people in every generation are tempted to think like this. There were people in my grandfather’s generation who grew up without electricity, or cars, or refrigeration who still long for the days when all the family was in one place and you milked your own cow and grew your own food. But it is easy to forget that the average American lived until they were 46. There were no antibiotics. It is easy to forget how little they had to help women in childbirth.
On this Memorial Day weekend, it is a proper thing to point to the past. We give thanks for those who gave all that we might be here today. We learn from their sacrifice and appreciate it.
Some point only to the now. Perhaps this is the most common flaw of Post-modernism and the common thinking of our day. Many do not care about the future or about the past. They just think about how they feel right now. That is how the drug addict feels. Consequences do not mean so much. So go up on the debt, buy what is shiny, fancy and impressive to others right now. When you live only for now, you may feel free but in fact you are trapping yourself in wrongness. God calls us to think about what is best for the long run. He invites us to live not in fear of consequences but in what will last forever- that is love for neighbor and love for God. For many people they think there is no point- no point in trying, no point in being faithful, no point in persevering. Our culture does not provide much point any more. Post-modernism tells us that everybody is right- or at least it doesn’t matter- your point is as good as my point. If all points are in the right direction there is ultimately no true point- no meaning- no hope- no purpose. Instead there is a lot of pointless living. We cannot live like that for long. God tells us He has made us with a purpose- with a point- with a reason. We are not here by accident nor are we here without a point.
We are called to point up. In late medieval and renaissance art John the Baptist is always pointing. He is always pointing up to a lamb or to Christ or just up. This is our calling. When someone is discouraged- point them up. When someone is grieving point them up. When someone feels darkness is all around them and has swallowed them whole- point them up.
When we point up to God- we honor Him. 1 Samuel 2:30 could be translated, “He who points to me, I will point to him” (He who honors me I will honor). There are those who say, “God is not UP; God is everywhere.” But it is not an accident that when we are sad where do we look? We look down. The Bible says that God is the “Lifter of our heads and the lifter of our hearts.” When we have communion, the words are- “Lift up your hearts- we lift them up to the Lord.” Why up? God encourages us. God raises us up out of the grave. It is true that God is not just up or down or around. God is everywhere. But the King of the planets upon planets, the one who made the billions of stars and millions of galaxies, is not restricted to this earth. The Christian Gospel is that He came for us to show us He loves us. He came down to bring us up. When we point up- and not just around-others know we are pointing to Him. When a football player scores a touchdown and points up, when a baseball player hits a homerun and points up, when you and I have a blessing that happens in our lives and we quietly point up- it is a witness to the world. When we take our babies and baptize them- we are pointing up. We are steeples. We point up.
Our passage says, “God is our refuge and strength an ever- present help in trouble.” This could be easily translated “God is our shelter and tower an ever- present help in trouble.” He is our shelter from the storms of life. We would be naïve to think that storms will not come our way. Or to think I will just be happy when the sun is shining and miserable when the storms come. Postmodernism goes by the weather for it has no anchor- it is adrift with the feelings of others- purposeless and pointless. Christianity has a point. It is a sign that points out saying, “This way to shelter.” All over Chapin, Peake, Little Mountain and Prosperity there are signs that point that say, “Evacuation route.” They point to safety. The steeple points to a place of refuge- a shelter. God is the ultimate refuge- the ultimate sanctuary- place of rest, reprieve. The church is His visible symbol on earth. The church as His people, and the buildings the church constructs will never be perfect pointers or perfect shelters and sanctuaries- but it is the best we’ve got. We want to be the best church we can be. The church is not God, and it is not there yet. The church is made up of imperfect people, imperfect staff and ministers, who are simply doing their best to Honor Him. We invite you to join us. Join us in doing the very best we can to point to Him, ringing out His honor. People get simply confused when they think the church is a building or a steeple. People are simply looking at the surface when they think the church is an institution. The church is us. It is the people who believe. At Lake Murray Presbyterian there are multiple legends of how we formed. One is that two guys were fishing on the lake and said, “we need to be in church- and there’s no church we want to go to around here.” Another legend is that people were In a bar and basically said, “Man we need a church around here.” It is a deep human need to take a little time to give thanks to the Creator. We have a need for a shelter- a tower of refuge and strength for us. And we have a need to point others to what we have. Where does your life point? Let it point up to God.