The dilemma rages on. Is the topping called caramel or carmel? When you talk ice cream topping, it is obviously Caramel. That delicious topping that blends your chocolate and nuts, oohwhee. It is also good in coffee, as my wife would attest to. Great, now I need to take a break and find a bowl or get a cone because I made myself hungry just thinking about it. But as you may have supposed, I am not talking about the gooey concoction here. The Carmel I am talking about is a mountain in Israel. But something sweet happened there.
Is God Really There?
This is one of my favorite Bible history lessons. You can find it in I Kings 18. Here we find the prophet Elijah facing a challenge from the day’s false teachers. They are once again worshipping false gods, seeking out, and threatening to kill the followers of God. This causes them to go into hiding. The fleeing leaders find Elijah and question if God is really with them. Elijah assures them that God is there and not to doubt. He then summons the perusing false teachers and challenges them to a face-off.
Where is Your god?
When these teachers gather together, they build an altar. Then they place animal sacrifices and begin to ask their gods to light the fire and accept their sacrifice. They pray, jump around, and even cut themselves to appease their god, but nothing happens. What makes it a bit humorous is that Elisha questions them and even asks if their god is in the bathroom. But we all know why nothing happens. Their gods do not exist. They try until the afternoon with no success.
It’s My Turn Now
Then it’s Elisha’s turn. He prepares the altar. Then looks at it for a second. For good measure, he asks that the altar be doused with water. Not once, but three times. The trough under the altar is filled with liquid; the wood is soaked. Then Elisha begins to pray. He prays, not that he is proven right, but that God would reveal himself. Even before his words are complete, fire is shot from Heaven, the wood is devoured, and water is lapped up. The entire altar and its sacrifice are consumed. God is proven to be the true God. And the people fall down and worship Him.
Seeing is Believing
All of this made me think about how we often don’t believe until we see. We hear about a God that is up in the clouds or is some existential being, but unless we see, touch, or taste, He is not real. I think that is part of the problem. If you have never seen the Amazon jungle or felt what it’s like to jump out of a plane, does it mean that any of that doesn’t exist? Well, Jeff, people have photos of the Amazon, and others can tell you what it’s like to jump out of a plane. And this is exactly my point. The same is with Christ.
Image of Christ
When someone has an experience with God, they can tell you what it is like. They share with those who have not had that experience. They are the photograph, the image of Christ. Their story of where they’ve been to where they are now is a testimony of what God has done in their life. It can be as simple as always living in a home that believed in God or as dramatic as being pulled from the streets of a drug-filled life or on the verge of taking their own life. I have seen both. God changes people.
Flair for the Dramatic
One of the main issues I see is that too many Christians have a flair for the dramatic. They misuse the name of Christ for their own gain. It pains me because these are the ones that non-Christians see; thus, non-Christians use this as their reason for not turning to Jesus and his healing power. These bad examples shout, dance, throw garments, and then beg for money to continue whatever show they are putting on. It is an embarrassment. I apologize if that is the ‘god’ you are seeing. That is not the true God. And I do not want it to keep you from a relationship with Him.
I am a Sinner
It is simple to begin a relationship. It begins with admitting to God that you are not living the life you should be living. Admitting that you are a sinner. We all are sinners. I am a sinner. But the good news is that Jesus died for those sins. He rose again for those sins, went back to Heaven, and now is waiting for us to come into a relationship with Him through repentance. Once we accept the gift, God’s word says he will accept us. That’s it. No hoops, jumping, dancing, cutting ourselves, or big theatrical motions. Just humble admission. Then we can turn from our old life and embrace His new life for us.
Forgiven. One can be told, but it will never be fully understood unless you experience the reality for yourself. Then one can see for themselves what lies ahead.
Photo by Kobby Mendez on Unsplash