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TRYING TO PLAY HIDE AND SEEK WITH GOD

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

12 JULY 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 3:8-10
Psalm 139:1-12
Luke 10:25-37

When we were young we used to play the game of hide and seek.

In this game, one person must find the others who have hidden themselves, in which case the searcher wins; or they may run home free without being found, in which case the ones who hid themselves win.

This is a game, and our lives didn't depend on winning it or losing it.

It was just a game.

But as we grow older, many of us continue to play hide and seek with our lives before God, and this time it isn't a game any longer; for this time our lives do depend on the outcome.

When Adam and Eve sinned before God, they tried to play hide and seek, too.

Note what we are told in Genesis 3:8-10.

8. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

9. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?"

10. And he said, "I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself."

The whole creation of earth, of the garden, and of Adam and Eve was based on love.

But now we see that Adam and Eve are afraid, and fear cannot exist where there is perfect love.

They have broken the bond of love between themselves and God.

They were naked before; but now they see their nakedness, because they partook of what the Lord told them not to eat.

And Adam answered the Lord, because he knew that the Lord knew where he and Eve were hiding.

Perhaps David wrote Psalm 139 when he had done something against the Lord's will; but he recognized the fact that God does see and know all things, even when we don't want Him to, just as Adam knew.

Letís turn to Psalm 139, and look at the first 12 verses.

1. O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.

2. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;
Thou dost understand my thought from afar.

3. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.

In other words, we can't think or do anything without God knowing about it.

So why do we think that we can hide anything from Him?

4. Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.

Yes, God knows it all!

Everything!

Yes, He even knows about "That"!

That's a scary thought, isn't it?

And it's scary because we dropped our love for God, and let something happen that couldn't have happened if love was up to full strength.

Have you ever seen one of those science fiction movies, where they put up a force field to prevent the enemy from attacking them?

Well, love is our force field against fear and sin.

David continues:

5. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Thy hand upon me.

Do you see the force field?

6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

No; like David, I don't think we can attain the heights of perfection that God possesses; but we are commanded to do so, nevertheless.

And then David sees the imperfectness of his nature, as we should in ourselves, and says,

7. Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy presence?

In other words, God always wins when we attempt to play hide and seek with Him.

God knows our every thought and intent, and His Spirit is everywhere to intercept us.

8. If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there.

9. If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10. Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.

11. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,"

12. Even the darkness is not dark to Thee,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.

This is a truth that each and every one of us has to come to understand.

There is no hiding place away from God.

Our loving and compassionate God knows that we struggle with sin in our lives.

He also knows that we have the power to overcome all sin, for He gave us that power.

And that power is His love!

If we just learn to take our problems and struggles to God in the first place, He will help us through them.

Then we won't have to worry about finding a place to hide our sins and ourselves from God, for He will have been with us through our entire struggle.

And the more we learn to accept this fact of life, the easier our life will be, and the fewer our sins will be; for our love will be growing in strength.

And remember, as our love grows in strength it will also expand to include the whole of God's creation (our fellow human beings, the other animals, and the world in which we all live.)

If we love each other this way, we will do not harm to one another, and no human or other animal will need to hide from us, and we will have no need to hide from others.

And when this happens, we will find true peace.

In the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:30-37, we see a practical example of not being able to hide from either God or from our responsibilities.

But in order to get a fuller understanding of this story, and why Jesus told it, let's begin at verse 25.

25. And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

This type of testing of someone else is also a way of trying to hide from our own weaknesses and from God.

And as we will see, the lawyer does know the truth, but is obviously not living it.

But since the Lord is full of unconditional love, He lets the lawyer see his own weaknesses, and then directs him back on to the right path.

26. And He [Jesus] said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?"

Lawyers work with an understanding of the Law, and the law of that day was the Law of the Hebrew Bible; and Jesus knew that the lawyer knew the truth and the answer to his own question, so He turned the question back on him for an answer.

27. And he answered and said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

28. And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live."

Jesus found the lawyer's hiding place, and exposed it.

This lawyer is no different from us.

We know the truth, just as he did.

So, what is the lawyer going to do now?

29. But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

That's a cheap shot, Mr. Lawyer.

But is his cheap shot at self-justification any worse than ours?

But Jesus doesn't get angry; He just answers him in love.

30. Jesus replied and said, "A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead.

31. "And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32. "And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

First of all, the robbers thought that they could get away with their crime, and that no one would care or see them; but God saw what they did.

Both the priest and the Levite were just as knowledgeable of the Law as was the lawyer, but they didn't want to apply to their own lives what they taught to others.

But then a non-Jewish person came by, a person who was not responsible for the Law.

33. "But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,

34. and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Christians, this is a lesson for all of us; for there are far too many of us who hide the truth, as did the lawyer, the priest and the Levite; and thus we give Christianity a bad name.

And there are many non-Christians who show much more love and compassion than the vast majority of Christians do, and they extend it to the whole of God's creation.

We can't hide this from God.

And we can't just do one expression of love or compassion, and expect it to be enough.

We must follow through, as the Samaritan did.

35. "And on the next day, he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.'

So, Jesus asks the lawyer and us another question:

36. "Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?"

37. And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same."

Jesus is saying the same thing to us.

Since we can't hide our sins or our hardness of heart from God, don't you think it's time that we, who call ourselves Christians, stop hiding the Christianity of Jesus Christ from the world around us?

Don't you think it's time that we show more unconditional love and compassion than the world does?

Don't you think it's time we quit playing hide and seek?

And this is something that every parent is to teach their children by both their words and examples.

Let's come out of the closet and encourage others to do the same.

And don't worry about what church someone is from or what religion they belong to; encourage them all, for there is no pride of ownership with real love and compassion.

If you want to evangelize, then love others into the kingdom.  Salvation is much more than saying a prayer; it's acquiring a new softened heart.

We are simply to live a life of love and compassion ourselves and share it with others.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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