mark this: ascription, Psalm 90
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
I don't completely trust contemporary Christianity. I cast a wary eye toward our songs, our TV and radio stations, our seminaries, our denominations, our priorities, and our assumptions. I especially guard myself against some very prevalent views of Jesus.
You see, my relationship with Jesus is my life. And so if I'm in a relationship with a skewed Jesus, then I'm living a skewed life. So I watch, like a hawk, what's being said about Jesus. If it doesn't match up with the biblical Jesus, I kick the thought out of my head. I mean I proactively throw it out the door of my head.
Whew! I didn't mean to get so contentious today, but I lead with those remarks because I want to take you way back, far away from the prevailing presumptions of the present hour. I want us to chip away all of the accumulated layers of tradition and get down to the real God with whom we are in vital relationship.
The best place to gather a sense of the relationship God intends is in the Psalms. And Psalm 90 is a prime example of relationship with God as it's meant to be:
1. It is the oldest Psalm in the Bible. Thus it goes as far back in time as personal subjective relationships with God have been recorded.
2. It was written by Moses--"the man of God" (see ascription) who was unique in all of scripture in that the Lord knew him "face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).
Read all the Psalms as if you are overhearing a conversation. And don't bring just your intellect to the Psalms. Breathe in their atmospherics. Relationships often have more to do with "chemistry" than logic.
In Psalm 90, see God through Moses' eyes--the eyes which saw God "face to face." Characterize his relationship with God. What is Moses' tone of voice? In what ways is his relationship with God like your own? In what ways does it differ?
Michelangelo's awesome frescoes, which cover the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, had over the centuries accumulated a grimy film which, art historians knew, muted their originally vibrant colors.
But the steady stream of viewers, passing below in rapt attention during those hundreds of years, had no way to know that they were looking at paintings so darkened by soot and smoke that they were drained of life.
In 1984, restoration of the Sistine ceiling began. The chapel wasn't re-opened to the public until 1994. The differences "before and after" restoration were extreme. Here's Daniel, before and after:
Don't look around the contemporary church and think that this is, necessarily, the way it's supposed to look. Centuries of past practice may have muted the colors.
See God according to scripture. Let your relationship spring solely from that source. Let your soul absorb the relationships with God as set forth in the Psalms. Inhale their atmosphere of reverence, of awe, of trust, and of the fear of the LORD. We will each relate to him individually, but the tone and tenor of our relationships will resemble those set forth in scripture.
We will not be high-fiving Jesus. There will be none of that. Don't take it from me. Take it from Moses, the man of God, who knew him face to face. We will not approach him with an "Attaboy! You did great work up there on the cross!"
Be careful, wary, and on guard concerning your concept of Jesus. Don't take in any one's word about him, except for God's Word. That's where his true colors come shining through.