Waimea United Church of Christ

 

Luke 12:1-12          “Secrets Shouted from the Rooftops”

 

            Before I dig into the topic today, which is how Jesus challenges us to be truthful in all things, I wanted to point out that being truthful also involves good true translations of the text from the original language into English. In this case, Luke was writing in Greek. Of note, in the first verse we read from our pew Bibles that the thousands that were gathering around Jesus were “trampling” on one another. The Greek text does not support that translation. The word “trample” is synonymous with “pound down,” “flatten,” or “crush.” Truthfully, all that Luke said was that they were standing on each other’s feet at times. Καταπατειν just means to tread upon, literally to put one’s foot down.

            Consequently we should not envision that the crowd is unruly or becoming an uncontrollable mob. They are not really hurting each other as the word “trample” might imply. Jesus is not going to allow people to be trampled in order to hear what he has to say. And, if there were a riot, you know that would be the perfect excuse for the Temple or Roman guards to come in to break up the gathering. That does not happen. This is not a riot. This is simply a lot of people doing the best they can to listen to Jesus preach.

            On this same idea of being truthful in translation, the very first thing that Jesus says is “Beware,” but that too is not such a good translation. Προσεχετε is the Greek word, that simply means “have before you.” Older versions of the Bible use the word “heed” in English. This is the idea of “considering carefully to find flaw in an argument.”

            Jesus is not telling us to beware of Pharisees as we might beware of jellyfish on the beach. Jesus is telling us to consider carefully what the Pharisees are saying, for in so doing we will find out their hypocrisy.

            I want to expand that to include everything that we read or hear in the news or social media online today! We need to heed. We need to consider everything very carefully.

 

            Why is it so important that we heed everything we hear? Verse 2 makes it clear that “nothing that is covered up will not be uncovered.” The Greek word here is “apocalypse” for “uncovered.” This is of course a blatant reference to the End Times when all the secrets of our hearts will be made known. Do not listen to untruths, lies, dissembled facts, for the Day of Revelation when all truths are confirmed is coming sooner than you think.

            John 14 is very clear in Jesus telling us all that “He is the Truth. . . .” with a capital “t.” When we hear news, we need to ask whether or not it will hold up in the End Time. Will Jesus confirm it? Will God be nodding an affirmative nod up in heaven when it is our time to justify ourselves? What do you think?

 

            God hears everything. God hears the birds singing. God hears the roosters crowing. God hears the crows roistering. (Yes, “to roister” is an English verb! Ha ha.) God even counts every single hair on our heads! Yes, God is counting backwards on some of our heads. We can consider that like the countdown to a space launch.

            The larger less-used English term for this is that God is “omniscient.” Everything in the universe is known by God. In our present “age of information” we can begin to appreciate the ramifications of omniscience. Today we have computer listening devices set up in our homes and places of business. Everything we say may be being recorded and sifted through by large mainframe computers.

            My daughter Kim told me the story of her friend who has an “Alexa” device in her home. The family noticed that the device seemed to be on even though there was no function for it at the moment. So, Kim’s friend asked the computer listening device: “Alexa are you listening to us now?” The response was, “Yes, I am learning.” As spooky as that was, Kim’s friend also noted that after having conversations about wanting to purchase certain things, offers would come up into e-mail and on Facebook social media trying to sell those exact same things that had been discussed.  So, the computers are listening in your home to what you might like to buy, sharing that information back to retailers, and those stores then send you solicitations, knowing you want to buy that!

            Think how that can be used for political fundraising, for instance. The computer hears what your political views are, and the next thing you know your being asked for donations. Or, the computer hears what your political views are, and the police come to arrest you on sedition. Everything that we think we say in private, could be broadcast now. To be sure, we no longer just watch television, the televisions are watching us.

            I was talking about this with the Tuesday afternoon Bible study group at the Regency Pua Kea. We gather in their activity room there. Most of the people at the Regency are not computer literate. The whole thing about having an “Alexa” device I thought would be new to them. As I do speak a little louder at the Pua Kea, I said “Alexa” loud enough that the television actually responded. The main TV in their activity room is “Alexa” enabled. “Yes, I hear everything you are saying,” came over the television sets speakers just in that moment. WHAT better proof of what I was saying could I have had!

            Humanity is hurling itself headlong into omniscience! When I was young man living in Germany, I would cross in those days into East Germany, the old communist stronghold. You could buy books super cheap there. The communist state was everywhere and all-knowing. They watched my every move. I always liked trying to figure out who was assigned to follow me every step I took while there. One out of every three East Germans in those days worked for STASI, the East German secret police. STASI knew everything about everybody!

            Before the East German STASI, there was of course Hitler’s Gestapo in Germany. They also knew everything about everybody. That means that “Alexa” is not that different from Heinrich Himmler working Hitler. So, we have to be wary of what our information is being used for.

           

            For me divine omniscience is a comforting thought. God knows everything. I am comforted in this because I know that God is also all-good! God always wants what is best for me. God wants to know me because God wants to have a good relationship with His children. That is why God sent Jesus to us. That is God telling us, “I am not just some voice and automated listening device; Here I am in the flesh before you!”

            On June 29th, 2016, a man by the name of Aaron Chevernak went to Las Vegas and in an official ceremony married his Smart phone. The voice on the phone, he explained, represented his longest lasting successful relationship with a woman—only it was not really a woman. Their two-year anniversary is at the end of this month. I have since read that Mr. Chevernak only married his phone as a publicity stunt for his on-line production company. So, I guess the marriage did not last. 

            God is real. Our relationship with God must be a real relationship. God is not just some voice up in heaven. God is not just collecting data on your life for obtuse reasons. God already knows the truth about your life. We have no secrets from God. We know one day we will be face-to-face with Jesus once again. If we ever thought we had a secret from God, then we will learn the truth coming right back at us!

 

            Fortunately, God IS all good! We have the promise of forgiveness from Jesus. Do you think Alexa will ever forgive you? Do you think Alexa will even ever forget anything? All the information that Alexa collects is on multiple servers found around the world. It is now part of the permanent record of humanity.

            Now let us turn to Jeremiah 31:31 and on: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the house of Judah. . . .I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to eash other ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

            You see, when humans start becoming omniscient through strange computer devices, that knowledge is used for Evil. That is why Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the tree of the fruit of knowledge in the first place. We as a race were never good enough to be all knowing!  We still are not.

            Only God is good enough to know everything. And, in knowing everything, has the capacity to forgive and even forget. God is not just “raw data” kind of truth (small “t”). God is Truth that allows for grace and love to win the universe. You see, if you really did know everything, you would know enough to forgive! That is the Truth that we need to shout from the rooftops!

 

Amen.