In the popular 1970’s television series, All In The Family, there was an episode where Archie Bunker discovered he had accidentally locked himself in his basement on a cold winter morning. His family members were all gone for the day and the only thing Archie could find to try to warm himself was an old bottle of scotch. As the day progressed and the contents of the bottle diminished more and more, an inebriated Archie found himself praying, asking God to help him get out of the basement before he froze to death.
Finally, late in the day, he heard a sound coming from upstairs. “Is that you, Lord?” he asked, now in a drunken stupor. “Mr. Bunker? Where are you?” the voiced answered. “I’m down here in the basement, Lord,” Archie replied.
What Archie didn’t know was that the voice was that of his black neighbor, who from outside the house, had heard Archie calling for help. This stranger had come into the house to help him in response to his cry.
Anybody who is familiar with the character, Archie Bunker, would probably choose the word “racist” as the first adjective to describe him. On this particular occasion, the last thing Archie was expecting to see was a black man come to the rescue. In his drunken frame of mind, he was looking for God.
“I’m coming to get you, Mr. Bunker,”the benevolent visitor assured him. “Thank you, Lord,” Archie answered. “Something fell across the door from the outside and locked me in. I’m ready for you to take me now, Lord.”
The door to the basement opened and the neighbor began to walk down the stairs where Archie was slumped over, face down. As the man reached the bottom of the stairs, Archie pushed himself up to take his hand and be carried away. Looking into the man’s black face, with an expression of shock and horror on his face, the drunken racist cried out, “Forgive me, Lord! I didn’t know!”
This scene from a television sitcom, although a comedy, raises a serious question. What if, when you see God face to face, He is nothing like you have imagined Him to be? All of us have formed our concept of who God is based on the input we have received. How accurate our concept of God is depends largely on whether or not that input was reliable or how properly we interpreted the information we received.
The key to becoming all that you are capable of being is to gaze into the face of God. That is the only thing the Bible ever plainly says will change us into the image of the Lord Himself.
It isn’t self-effort that will change our lives. If that worked, most of us would already have reached perfection because we have certainly tried . . . and failed. What does work in changing a person is a consistent Godward gaze into the beautiful face of a Divine Lover, who is more committed to us that we can imagine. Determine now to give up on self-effort and simply look to Him.