“I am an Invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids-and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination, everything and anything except me.”
In 1952 Ralph Ellison penned these words in a book he wrote entitled, “The Invisible Man.” This discourse he communicated to American Society because he did not feel accepted based on the color of his skin.
Fifty-eight years after the publication of this book, I can relate to the words of Ralph Ellison not because of the color of my skin but because of my choice to reject sin. And in doing so, seek to live as a sincere Seventh-day Adventist Christian within the Church today. One who genuinely embodies the expectation of being a peculiar person. I view this as invisibility because an overwhelming number of young people in the church claiming to be remnant, last day Seventh-day Adventist Christians are actually not living up to all the truth that they know. Not only are they not living up to their truth, they work to pull those who are, out of God’s safety zone of practicing believers. It is almost as if they are mirrors of hard, distorting glass surrounding us, as talked about by Ellison in his book.
Because there are so few of us young people striving to live in accordance with the Word and will of God, I view us as invisible. Therefore I have chosen to speak to you a short while on the subject; In the Days of Noah: Is the Peculiar Man the Invisible Man?
Let us pray!
Father, he who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. Hide me behind your throne of grace, and not my will Father but Thy will be done. Allow your Holy Spirit to speak through me this day, and when all is said and done we will be careful to give you all the praise, honor and glory. In Jesus’ name I do pray, Amen.
Although I am only a third generation Adventist I am convinced it is my generation that will RAP, capital R-A-P, it’s way to the second coming of Christ. And by rap, I don’t mean a type of popular music of US black origin which have words that are recited rapidly and rhythmically, over a prerecorded-typically electronic-instrumental backing; as defined by the dictionary. Neither do I mean an informal talking or discussion session. No, when I say rap I mean having the Responsibility, Accountability and Probability of ushering in the Second Coming of Christ.
The Responsibility because it is our generation that God has given the technological knowledge and ability to complete the spreading of the three angels messages throughout the world in the short period of time, that remains.
The accountability because of the Pathfinder Aim we have taken to heart, recited, and declared throughout the years which states “The Advent message to all the world in this – our -generation.” And the Probability, because the signs of the times we currently experience point to the very soon coming of Christ in the midst of Days which mirror Noah’s time, as prophesied. Now when we usually speak of ‘signs of the times’ we refer to environmental tragedies and wars and rumors of wars. However, the signs of the times in Noah’s day were character specific and as it was in Noah’s day, it is the same today.
What did the days of Noah look like? Step into my spiritual time machine and let’s go back to the time before the flood. It’s a beautiful spring morning, as a giant man of great stature and strength – known for being quite wise, walks outside to observe the jewel covered mountaintops in his backyard. He has just finished adding gold to his front porch and silver to his chariot. He smiles as he beholds the almost perfect green grass and deep brown bark surrounding the trees, then thinks – “what a blessing to live in these times in Utopia.”
Next he admires the clear, crystal blue sky and near perfect temperatures surrounding him. The pure, untampered air fills his nostrils with the smells of lavender and vanilla, rosemary and violet, jasmine and citrus, just to name a few. He walks towards the place of worship where sits the altars of his family idols and graven images. On his way there he eats from a tree which bears fruit of all kinds of description.
As he leaves his idol-worshiping experience, he walks past where Noah and his sons are building a strange apparatus and preaching, and stops to listen for a little bit. Now we see him gaze with pride at his home. And then, it happens, his gaze shifts from admiring his house to admiring his neighbor’s wife tending to her garden. “What a beautiful woman” he says to himself, “I must make her one of my wife!” Then his current wife comes down the stairs, and he does not avert his eyes and she does not avert her eyes either because in this Utopia, it is normal to have multiple spouses.
Unfortunately, these are not the only activities occurring in this world during Noah’s days on earth. In-fact this afternoon – a group of friends in the subdivision called ‘Eden Desired’ are having a get together. As people walk into the facility they are greeted by the lovely gay couple hosting the party – Adam and Steve. Adam and Steve were well known because they always had good entertainment at their parties. In their everyday jobs as CEO and COO of the well known antediluvian think tank, their focus is to come up with any and everything that could be thought or imagined that is evil.
As a result at their parties can be seen revealing dress on both males and females, clothes that not only do not cover the body, but if they do cover, they are extremely tight, and look painted on. Also at Adam and Steve’s party can be found date and statutory rape, incest, drinking and use of mood-altering herbs, gluttonous eating, cursing, gambling, lack of restraint and more. The theme of the party is on a banner in the front which states, “Act on your hearts desire, there is no right or wrong, because anything goes.” These are people who say they believe in God and claim to be His.
However, do you see that one family over there across the street? The one that did not go to this party, did not worship at the place where the altars are, and are living lives in close relationship and fellowship with God? They are very peculiar, and referred to by God as righteous and blameless in the heavenly realm. But you know what? In the earthly realm they are invisible.
Even when they are building the ark during the week, making noise and building this strange apparatus, people act like they are not there. The head of this household is Noah, and he just recently received word from God that because of this carefree mentality as relates to sin, He is going to destroy the Earth with water. It is Noah’s job to warn the people and to build a boat for the survivors. So he tells them about the rain that will lead to a flood
They replied. “We live in perfection. What is rain? It has never rained before, so why would it start now. Our great philosophers have just begun to prove that Mother nature is more powerful than God Himself, so we have nothing to fear. As we continue our ride in the spiritual time machine, we fast-forward a hundred years or so. The ark is done. The hearts of the people of this Utopia have been so hardened that not only do they ridicule Noah for his “foolish” ideas, but their sinful living and characteristics have become automatic.
Now the people at the party are astonished. They gaze upward, and are astonished because the crystal, clear blue sky that they have grown so accustomed too is slowly darkening. Clouds have begun to swirl in circles and as they continue to gaze small droplets of water began to fall from the sky. A jagged piece of light that just skips across the atmosphere, a big noise is heard crashing throughout the sky. In the boat is Noah, his family, and every kind of animal.
The people’s fear overwhelm them so much that they became wild. They run all over with some people tying their families to large animals and racing for the mountaintops. Others are beating on the ark asking Noah to open the door so they can get in. While others are climbing to the tops of trees only for them to be uprooted by the waters.
According to Ellen White in the book Patriarchs and Prophets – chapter 7 – “Many at first appeared to receive the warnings yet they did not return to God with true repentance, they were unwilling to renounce their sins….some were deeply convicted and would have heeded the words of warning, but so many of the people that they worshipped and fellowshipped with were laughing, scoffing and ridiculing what was being preached and taught. As a result, those who were deeply convicted changed their minds and chose to partake of the same spirit of jesting and scoffing with others. As a result, they resisted invitations of mercy, and were soon among the boldest and most defiant of scoffers.”
In 2 Peter 3:3 we are given a heads up. It says, “Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days, scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.” Luke 17:26, 27 & 30 and Matthew 24: 37-39 tells us that“ When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of man comes.”
Once more our time machine takes off, only this time we land in the here and now, the last days. We are now in ‘REAL TIME’. How do we know, because we see the same character and behaviors in people here that we saw in Noah’s day. Sadly as we look around we don’t see an acknowledgement in the countenances of your faces that this is the last days and time is short. Well, let me tell you the signs that we see.
Currently in the United States of America, as was calculated in 2008, 40% of first marriages end in Divorce. One of the problems is that sex is the number one topic searched on the internet. In Berrien County alone – which is a small rural town where I live – drinking begins at the age of 12. The watching of porn begins at 11. But it’s not just sex and drinking that was a problem in Noah’s day or our day. It is also spiritualism and satanic worship. 1 Timothy 4:1 states, “The Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last days, some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.”
In 2007, the New York Times Book Review put out an evaluation on Harry Potter. I’ll quote, “In the 10 years since the first one, ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ was published, the series has sold 325 million copies worldwide, with 121.5 million in print in the United States alone. Before Harry Potter, it was virtually unheard of for kids to queue up for a mere book. Children who had previously read short chapter books were suddenly plowing through more than 700 pages in a matter of day.”
A large number of elementary, high school, and college students in the Adventist Church have critiqued J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as not only creative but “a great read.” I watched as my friends in elementary, junior high, high school and now college, continued to feed their minds with what I consider to be the devils food, and then practice reciting spells. Hordes of young people under the spell of Satan and promoting it as literature. Yet, a small number of young people have maintained a voice that it is spiritualism and should not be read at all. Unfortunately our voice is not heard. Why? You guessed it, because we are invisible in the church. We are struggling against a tide of the majority, to be a peculiar people, an invisible people, a ‘chosen people’ as identified in 1 Peter 2: 8,9 which says, “…you – young ladies and young men of Hyde Park – are not are a chosen people. You are a royal priesthood. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God; for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.”
Guess what other signs of the times we see in these last days: turn with me in your bibles to 2 Timothy 3:1-5, it states “in the last days perilous or difficult times will exist. For people will love only themselves and their money; they will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. Nothing will be considered sacred, people will be unloving and unforgiving, they will slander others and have no self-control. Remember the banner at the Adam and Steve party when we visited the days of Noah in the time machine? It stated,
“Act on your hearts desire, there is no right or wrong, because anything goes.” That is what is going on now. In addition, other character signs of the last days includes: people being cruel and hating what is good, betraying friends, being reckless, puffed up with pride, and loving pleasure rather than God. They act religious, but reject the power that could make them spiritual or godly. This text was speaking about people in the church. People supposedly in the God’s zone. And yet, it advises us to stay away from people like that. I am sure as we read this text our tendency is to identify someone we know that fits the bill. I encourage you all to evaluate your own character to see if YOU fit the bill.
If you do, the Holy Spirit is asking you on this day, at this moment in your heart to change that, to be in these last days – days that mirror Noah’s days – a peculiar person and join the ranks of the invisible in God’s Zone.
When you are in God’s Zone, then you are supposed to be peculiar. But I would like to suggest that some in the God Zone are so intrigued by the things of this world that they have begun to assimilate with the world. In fact, I’d like to suggest that some in the God Zone have assimilated so much that we excuse them looking like the world by saying that the only way to reach the world is to be like the world. Well, the last time I read the Word it said, in John 12:32 that if, He -Christ be lifted up He would draw all persons to Him. I also read in 1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from the world. And the word also tells us in James 4:4 “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, if you want to be a friend of the world you make yourself an enemy of God.”
So I ask, why is it that when a young person in the God Zone speaks up for and lives up to the original beliefs they were baptized under, and refuses to assimilate like the world, they are either shunned or ignored, and treated as though they are invisible?
I ask this question because I had an experience where I felt invisible. Recently, while at college, I was asked to a Sabbath luncheon and while we were waiting for the food to be prepared the host asked if we wanted to watch a movie. Our options were a Marvin Sapp gospel concert on DVD, or Tyler Perry’s Movie ‘Madea Goes to Jail’. I paused for a second and then something told me to speak up so I said, “I feel we should watch something spiritual since this is the Sabbath and we just got out of church.” The response given to me was, “Madea is spiritual!” No one else spoke out with me. I was alone, and disregarded because they put the movie in anyway despite my voice against it. Me and my opinion were invisible.
I just quietly pulled out my ipod and began to listen to some gospel music to place myself in a personal ‘God zone’, and zone out the movie. I began to read my Bible. It was amazing how God would send me to verses in the Bible that affirmed my decision. Because of this, I found myself laughing out loud and singing along with Richard Smallwood one moment and Tye Tribbett the next. Little did the other guests know, I could hear them make comments like, “She’s off into her own little world.” That made me laugh as well.
I share that story to show how even at Andrews University, which is supposed to be a zone where God is the center, one can become invisible because of your belief in the Word. Even in the clearest of doctrines as keeping the Sabbath Holy. The scary piece was that others who were in the God zone with me, actually thought the ‘Madea goes to jail’ movie was spiritual. Still others in the God zone who believed as I did, yet did not speak up, later came and told me that they agreed but were not strong enough to stand up. They had decided to be a peculiar people, and a chosen generation, but they let peer pressure make them invisible.
In the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary Volume 7. The word ‘peculiar’ is taken from the Greek word peripoiesis, meaning ‘possession’ [one’s] own property, literally an acquisition, which is an object that is bought or obtained. It further states that, “the expression translated ‘peculiar people’ reads, literally, ‘a people into possession’. Meaning ‘a people of whom God has come into possession of’, or a ‘a people God has acquired for Himself’.
Therefore the concept of being called a “peculiar people” is not solely based on the idea that we are to live lives that are “odd” “strange” or “unusual.” It is in-fact based on the idea that we were bought with a price and therefore we are to live our lives as living sacrifices unto God because the price that was paid was not cheap.
So I invite you to ask yourselves the following two questions, which I ask myself; one, how can I live my life so that others know that I’m in the God Zone? And two, how can I live my life so that the one who possesses me – Jesus Christ – My Master who has set be free from the chains of sin, sees me living my life in such a way that He knows I am sincerely in the God Zone.
Well, it is hard to live that life, talk that talk, and walk that walk in 2010. It’s hard to dress like royalty when everyone tells you that the only way to get a man to dress sensual, and the Media tells you that the tighter your clothes are, the sexier you are no matter what your body type is. It’s hard to behave like a queen when young men communicate as if you a part of the harem rather than the royalty. It’s hard to maintain sexual purity when your friends say “you just don’t know what you are missing, and you need experience before you get married any way”. It is hard to stay in the word when movies, video games, and the internet fight to monopolize your mind. Well, I would like to say, it might be hard because you are surrounding yourselves with people in the God zone that do not have the same spiritual vision and mission as you have; and, are not trying to be peculiar or identify with the chosen generation. If that is the case then you need to take heed to what 1 Corinthians 15:33 advises when it says, “Don’t be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
OR it might be hard because like Paul you feel that the things you hate to do are the things you do, and the things you want to do, you don’t do; then I want to remind you that “Greater is HE that is in you than he that is in the world.” So you have no excuse. Because when you understand your role and accept the RAP goals of responsibility, accountability, and probability, for ushering in the Second Coming of Christ, then you will understand that when God takes you out of darkness, you do not remain the same. You don’t dress the same. You don’t walk the same. You don’t talk the same. You don’t even get out of bed the same. You don’t do anything the same because God has changed you from the inside out. You have now realized that because you are a peculiar person you are to living a different kind of life, one that reflects a ‘royal priesthood’.
And if you stay true to this, in the end the tables will turn. Because you will be in the true God Zone, the group of believers to whom He says, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things so I will make you ruler over many. You may enter into the joy of the Lord.” However to those who don’t get this message, they will be the invisible young man and young lady. Why? because Christ will tell them, depart from me you sinners I know you not,
So as I close, I want you leave you with this thought. Our days are as they were in Noah’s time. And while it is O.K. to watch the last days signs of the times evident in the environment, I encourage you to watch the last day signs of the times that were evident during Noah’s days. Signs of the times related to character and characteristics that let you know you are not a peculiar person in the God Zone, and could end up being an invisible person when Christ returns.
So I encourage you to Watch your WORDS they become your THOUGHTS; Watch your THOUGHTS they become your ACTIONS; Watch your ACTIONS they become your HABITS; Watch your HABITS they become your CHARACTER; Watch your CHARACTER it determines your DESTINY!
Have a blessed Sabbath