WHERE IS THE AWE?
We live in a cynical nation during cynical times surrounded by cynical people.
No, I am not trying to be Ebenezer Scrooge saying, "Bah humbug," on Christmas Eve
Day. I just ask you to look at our circumstances and situation.
Consider a list of ten commonly accepted views many Americans do not
question. Please do not agree or disagree. Instead, ask a question: "Do the majority of
people I know think this the way?"
- Our systems of education are a destructive force in our children's lives.
- Teens are supposed to distrust their parents.
- Parents are supposed to have trouble with their teens.
- People married to each other are supposed to fight with each other.
- People should not expect marriages to last.
- Needy people learn how to be con artists.
- Unprincipled people make good politicians.
- Businesses care about money, not about people.
- Positive role models are a thing of the past.
- Beware of strangers who want to something good for you.
Are those common views cynical?
- Today you and I live in a society that holds little in awe.
- We have just concluded a long, long political campaign which is an
- "It is fair to misrepresent your opponent in any way you can as long as what
you say is technically true."
- "It is okay not to tell the whole truth."
- "It is okay if the political ad is deliberately biased and oversimplilfied."
- "It is okay if the political ad deceives."
- "The uniformed may hear a lie; the uninformed may believe a lie; the
uniformed may be deceived; but it is okay as long as what is said is
- One evening I heard a political analyst seriously suggest that the late night
comedians seemed to be in better touch with people's reactions than
- That is an incredible statement.
- The satire, critical statements, and cynical suggestions of David
Letterman and Jay Leno more correctly reflect the thinking of the
American public than do the insights of a serious political analyst.
- We are supposed to accept as fact that nothing is sacred in our society.
- Nothing is above ridicule.
- Little if anything is trusted.
- Everything done is for some self-serving reason.
- Many would react by asking, "What is wrong with that? That is a good
situation, not a bad situation."
- "That protects people from being disillusioned."
- "It protects those who are gullible."
- "It helps shock proof our society."
- "People learn to expect the worst (that is good!), to not trust others (that is
good!), to understand everybody functions on bad motives (that is good!)."
For all their faults, flaws, and failures, Old Testament Israel at times did hold
God in awe.
- Deuteronomy 16:16 states:
Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord
your God in the place which He chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the
Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord
In the book of Psalms there is a collection of psalms (Psalm 120 to Psalm
134) that are known as the songs of ascents.
- All of the adult men of Old Testament Israel were commanded to make a
pilgrimage to Jerusalem for national sacrificial worship threes times each
- At the time of Passover when they remembered the night they were
released from Egyptian slavery.
- At the time when the first gatherings of the harvest were sacrificed to God.
- At the time when the harvest was completed
- Families could accompany them if the men so chose.
- These seem to be the songs sung by the Israelite pilgrims as they were going
up Mt. Zion on special occasions.
- Listen to some of the verses in their songs as they gathered to praise and
- Listen to the awe.
In my trouble I cried to the Lord,
And He answered me.
Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From whence shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
I was glad when they said to me,
"Let us go to the house of the Lord."
To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,"
Let Israel now say,
"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us.
Those who trust in the Lord
Are as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.
If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.
O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord,
Who serve by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the sanctuary
And bless the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth.
At this time of the year many people talk about the awesome thing God did
when He sent His son to live in this world.
- It is easy to talk about the awe while we are concerned about things that
have nothing to do with the awe.
Let me ask you about the awe.
- The month of December is an important month in our economy.
- In the retail business, it is the most important month of the year.
- What stores sell in December often determines if a business survives.
- But those concerns are not about the awe.
- Probably more family reunions occur in December than any other month of
- For some people it is a frantic time.
- For some people it is a time of deep depression.
- For some people it is a time to renew love and relationship.
- But those matters are seldom about the awe.
- What do you consider to be the most awesome thing God did when He
permitted His son to be born into this world?
- The separation when Jesus left heaven and became a human infant?
- The fact that God would let a part of Himself become human?
- The sending of a Savior to a world that did not deserve a Savior?
- The mercy and forgiveness that Jesus made possible?
- All of those are awesome, but to me something is more awesome.
- The most awesome thing to me is what God made possible in all human life.
- In many places this morning men and women are worshipping God
through Christ as they sit on bamboo poles mounted in dirt floors.
- Many of them cannot read, never went to school, and never owned a
- They speak a language that has not yet become a written language.
- They are sick most of the time, and they will not live over forty years.
- Some of them will never travel fifty miles from the village of their birth.
- But God has zero problem understanding them, knowing them, or
making them 100% His sons and daughters.
- In many places this morning men and women who are well educated and
highly successful are worshipping God through Christ.
- They are among the most educated, intelligent people alive.
- They speak more than one of the most advanced languages known in
the circles of the educated.
- They enjoy the best benefits and opportunities known on earth.
- They often travel to the population centers of our world.
- And God has zero problem understanding them, knowing them, or
making them 100% His sons and daughters.
- Because of Jesus Christ, no person is beneath God and no person is above
- No one is too small for God to hear, understand, and help.
- No one is too accomplished for God to hear, understand, and help.
- And, to me, that is awesome!
Do you realize what that means to your life? Your life is never too small, too
complicated, or too accomplished for God to understand and to help. May you look
with awe at what God can do for you!
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 24 December 2000
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