The third chapter of Wilkin’s work is entitled “The Face of God for now” and is pulled from a quote from St. Augustine which says, “For now, treat the Scripture of God as the face of God. Melt in its presence.” This is reflective of ideas we have dealt with previously regarding the notion of Scripture as an Icon and vehicle to the very presence of God. While I want to avoid kicking a dead horse with this topic, I must insist upon its importance. If we do not understand Scripture as an Icon, then we are missing out on one of the greatest sources of intimacy with our creator. In some ways, I find it probable that perhaps one of the reasons we can be loath to read the scriptures is that we know that we will find God in His words and we recognize our present unworthiness without really recognizing His grace.
This present struggle with the reading of scripture brings us to a comment Wilkin writes while reflecting on the work of Irenaeus in “Against Heresies”, “Christ does not simply reverse what had been lost in the fall: He brings to completion what had been partial and imperfect.” Perhaps it might be good for us to simply reflect on what this means for our reading of the scriptures.
We are being perfected. Scripture plays a role in our being perfected, for it is by God’s revelation through scripture that we are principally told about Christ. God’s grace doesn’t bring us to a present state of neutrality but rather changes the very foundations of our moral experience such that we have a desire for Holiness which undergirds the entire experience of sanctification. However, it is this very experience which, the Devil quite joyously manipulates rather meticulously to try and warp the effects of scripture to bring about shame and an instinct to hide from God rather than a servant desire to draw closer to Him.
Perhaps, if we were to become honest with ourselves and recognize that our present sinful condition is not one of defeat but rather a condition wherein we find that our sin is a mark of our disobedience to God. We would find reason enough to be in the scriptures far more than we are currently. We are not chained to sin and yet still we commit sin, we are not defeated for Christ is victorious, therefore our sin must be a reflection of our intentional, and chosen disobedience. Perhaps, if we merely begin to choose obedience we would find ourselves being changed by the working of God through His word to accomplish His ends and purposes. Scripture does not fail to perform its functions in the moments that it is interacted with.
Perhaps the Early Christians understood this far more intimately than we do now, for we are quick to distance ourselves from God and His word and yet they and many others seemed far quicker to cling to God and His word. Perhaps we fail to understand the very literal dying we have been called to experience. Perhaps we fail to understand the entire paradigm of scripture. Perhaps we fail to understand what God intends for us. Perhaps we might benefit from drawing close to God within the confines of our hearts and really asking Him to reveal to us the source of our disobedience and the things of our life we are holding back from His consuming fire.
Read the Scriptures, be mastered by them, be perfected in your obedience to them, for they are the very face of God for now.