September 13, 2017
Bishop Ariel Cornelio P. Santos
Have you ever seen a body of water that reflects the bigness of our God? Have you ever been on a mountain top seeing the valley from down on it and seeing God’s creation before your eyes? Have you ever been to an aquarium and seen fish of different kinds and appreciate God’s creativity in their variety and their beauty? Have you ever looked at plants, trees or flowers and appreciate God’s handiwork in them? On a clear night, have you ever looked up to the sky and appreciate the enormity of space? Have you ever wondered how God created all of the heavens and the earth?
The Bible says that the heavens declare the glory of God. Plants, animal were created by God, but none of them was created in the image of God, like you and me. If the heavens declare His righteousness, His glory and His beauty, if plants can give all to the Beholder, if the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky and creeping things can give glory to God and proclaim who God is, moreso, we, who have been made in the image and likeness of God.
We are all proclaimers! We are witnesses and a witness is not silent. There is this song entitled “Because of Who You Are” that says, “You spoke the Word and all the world came to order. You waved Your hand and planets filled the empty sky….Although these things amaze me, yet, a greater wonder brings to my knees. What brings to my knees is not that space is infinite; not that the planets are huge and light years away. Does God create a sun that is not exhausted with its energy. What brings me to my knees is the love of God to me. He is God, the Creator of all, and yet, He became man and took my sins and brought me life.” This is what we call wonder!
The peacock can proclaim the greatness of God. The elephant’s size can proclaim the enormity of God. The little insect can proclaim the glory of God. Scientists can proclaim the glory of God, but we are not called to proclaim this way. We are called to proclaim God through what brings us to our knees. What brings us to praise God is what we will proclaim. Scientists can be amazed with God’s creation, but it is nothing compared to the wonder of all – which is God’s love.
This is what we are called to be witnesses of. All of creation has its own role, and they have their own way of proclaiming God. Man was created differently – in the very image of God - and we are to proclaim His nature. It is not just His creativity, His ability to make something out of nothing, but His very essence – which is His goodness and love. We were called to proclaim these things. The greatest miracle of God is that He loves somebody like you and me, and we are to duplicate this miracle. It is a miracle in our lives to forgive people like God does.
We are disciples and witnesses. A disciple is a pupil; a student who learns from his teacher. Jesus was a Rabbi, a teacher, and His disciples learned from Him. It is expected from a disciple to be a product of what was taught to him by the teacher. What is being taught to us by God? To be religious? What He taught the disciples was the Sermon on the Mount; to serve one another. Sometimes, we make Christianity complicated, but what is asked of us? To love one another as we love ourselves. We will not violate any law of God when we have love, and this is what we are supposed to be disciples and witnesses of.
This is a high calling because only man was called by God to proclaim His nature. If people are led astray, it is our responsibility to remind them and to lead them back to the ways of God. This is because we are witnesses or disciples. We are not looking down on them, belittling them, but lifting them up and reminding them, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus being the Way, the Truth, and the Life is not meant to exclude anyone, but leading people to Him.
Jesus said, “Signs and wonders shall follow My disciples.” We might interpret signs and wonders as miracles or the gifts of the Holy Spirit flowing through us. This is true and good, but a sign is an attestation; a proof of something. Signs will follow Jesus’ disciples.
I believe Jesus did not teach His disciples to speak in tongues, which is a healthy part of a Christian’s life, but is this the sign that Jesus speaks of? I believe in healing, in prophecy, or whatever gift we have, but they are just manifestations of a sign that should really be there – God’s love and compassion. We heal people because we love. We pray, we prophesy because we have a concern and compassion for others. The sign is the reason why we do the gifts that was given to us. This is the sign that should follow us, so that in everything we do, this sign is evident. The absence of this sign can also be evident. No love or compassion for others can be felt.
The sign should follow us because we are the disciples, the products of our Master. Our Master taught us who He is, and what His kingdom is all about, so that when people see us, they don’t see our ways – being good in theology; a good singer; in laying hands and healing people. The bottom-line sign is: whatever gift we operate in, whatever talent we use, these should just be manifestations of the real sign that should be with us. We are disciples of God because we have this sign in us. We are disciples so that God’s heart can be in us because a true student gets the teacher’s heart.
If we understand God’s heart and it is with us, then God’s love, compassion, kindness, all the other things will follow. We don’t have to memorize verses. We don’t have to identify the fruit of the Spirit, the names of the twelve apostles. Rather, we have to know what is the gospel. What are we supposed to be disciples of? What signs should accompany us and should be overflowing in us? It is the heart of God – being able to minister through the love, the experience, and the relationship that we have with God. Having the heart of God is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.