I saw a show on television recently explaining the reproduction of skin cells and the reason our skin looks "aged". The doctor explained that we begin with the original cells from the time we were Created/born and year after year, our cells reproduce by making a copy. The problem is that the skin cells make a copy of a copy, each time losing a little more authenticity. He then likened it to a copy from a printer. He said, "Just imagine what your copies would look like if you made copies of copies and could only use the last copy as the master. If you did this year after year, you can imagine what it would look like - not very much like the original!" It does bring a vivid image to mind.
I began to hear a Spiritual message in this analogy. I am reminded of how we pass the things of the Lord down from generation to generation. Our responsibility to pass down "authentic" information and testimonies of our experiences with Christ to the next generation is very important, yet, have we lost some key elements in the reproduction? I'm not talking about the translations of the Word of God, necessarily, but some even argue the validity of certain translations. What I'm referring to is more about our personal responsibility in passing on Christ to others and future generations. It's about our personal ideologies/ beliefs/ standards. Have our beliefs changed and become watered down? Has deception clouded our view of sin? Do we even view the Word as the authoritative rule of faith and conduct for our lives - or do we rely on other man made resources to give us the bulk of our spiritual food and revelation? Do we even have a clear understanding of what we believe and why?
This passing down/ copying of information is very much what it must have been like in the Old Testament. Think of it. Most of what the original followers of God knew and understood about Him was passed down from word of mouth. This probably started with Adam and Eve and their children. Can you imagine those first parents telling their kids, "We were driven from the garden because of sin?" and then explaining to them what sin was. Can you imagine them talking about the serpent and how he deceived them and what it was like when their eyes were open to sin? They even hid from God who loved them so much! You would have thought that those children would have been very eager to avoid sin at all cost - because they knew firsthand the consequences. Yet it was in this first generation of offspring that we see the first murder when Cain killed Abel. Doesn't it make you wonder about what might have been said in those first generations? What led some to believe and others to ignore the truth? Why did some possess faith while others didn't?
This scenario also brings to light that even the very presence of God walking among His people does not guarantee that they will be obedient. Even the existence of the law doesn't mean that there will never be any law breakers. We have willful choice as to whether we will obey Him and His Word.
By the time Moses received the divine inspiration to write the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) many, many generations had passed. In fact, by most credible resources it is suggested that the dates of those original Mosaic writings was somewhere around the fifth or sixth centuries Before Christ (or BCE as they like to call it today). That's 500-600 years from the Creation of man! So, you can see that up until that time, people would have had to know something about God from the ancestors (Adam and Eve). Yet, they did not live without sin. Even after the burning bush experience and the receiving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, the people were still prone to sin. Bibles weren't in existence and the law was literally read to them. It took a long time to transcribe the Word onto parchment scrolls and distribute them and those who desired/hungered for the Word weren't fed as often as they may have wished. Again, the most important aspect of knowing about God in those early days was the passing
down of information from generation to generation verbally!
Eventually people began to write things down (Scripture) and bind them to their arms or write them above their doorposts. God impressed the importance to relay the miracles that they had seen to their children. They were also to pass down the knowledge and understanding of the law. There were passages such as in Deuteronomy that God told them to know and teach to their children.
Fast forward to the time of Christ when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He not only fulfilled all the Old Testament Prophecy, but He also fulfilled all the law. Yet, even with Jesus walking among them, performing miracles, and proving His Divinity, people chose to disbelieve. But, thankfully, the eye witness accounts of Jesus, His life, and teachings were recorded by eye witnesses for the rest of us to learn from. We don't have to imagine what was said or felt, because it was written down. These accurate historical documents don't just give us a feel for the facts, they are light and life.
So, to bring this all around to my thoughts today. We are so immersed in being spiritual, to have "experiences" during our church services, and have all the Bibles in multiple translations that we could possibly want. We have devotionals, 24/7 prayer call in lines, every resource imaginable...yet, does this mean that we are closer to the Lord? OR, could it mean that it makes it harder in some ways to know who God really is???
What is it that WE are passing down to our children? Is it our own version of God? It is emotionalism or human knowledge? Is it simply whatever the bandwagon is following? Do we have personal testimonies and experiences to share with others that would compel them to trust, depend, or believe in the Almighty God? OR, are we like the photocopies: relying on our parents’ faith - or others, which may or may not be an accurate depiction of Him?
My challenge for us today is to go back to the original. Let Him, His Word, and the power of the Holy Spirit ignite us. Let's not "settle" for a copy. Let's get to know Christ and His fullness personally and for that to be our testimony. We are all called to be imitators of Christ and nothing/no one else! Let's prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to shine the spotlight on areas that are "imitations" and compel us to seek the original. Let's become less so that HE will become greater in our hearts and lives!
My reading this morning took me to the Thessalonians where Paul is commending Silas and Timothy for the work they are doing. I would recommend reading both first and second Timothy for inspiration today, but I will close today with some of his words...
"We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers..." 1 Thess. 1:2-7
Blessings and prayers that we will be "originals" - made new each day because of Jesus!