|Posted: March 17, 2005|
Well, we have hid it long enough. I guess it is time to come clean. My wife did not want me to advertise it but we owe it to the world…Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus are on our wall. I am not sure where they go during the day but they appear there every night.|
When my wife and I first noticed the mysterious apparition we were not sure what to make of it. But, night after night it lingered up there on the wall, above the bookshelf. And, night after night we looked up at it and wondered. Is it real? Is it our imagination? Just what is it?!
Now naturally we would question why such a miraculous image would appear on our wall. After all, such incredible images do not typically appear on the walls, tree trunks, grain silos, and cheese sandwiches of independent fundamental Baptists. Nevertheless, it is there. And, since it is there, we had to decide what to do about it.
If we belonged to a different denomination we would have gone public with the image some time ago. However, knowing that most of our crowd look askance at such things, we kept it to ourselves for a number of years. Of course, it is hard to live with Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus appearing on the wall every night and not say anything to anyone. Still, we managed to bear the burden alone for the most part, only showing the shadowy nativity to three or four others.
Through the years we have resisted the temptation to profit from the image. We could have easily opened our doors and let the world in to gaze upon our wall. I'm sure the faithful viewers would have freely given a few dollars to the cause of missions if we had.
Another tempting possibility was to license the miraculous image and put it on thimbles, key fobs, shirts, spoons, and coffee cups. We could have even turned our kitchen into a gift shop with souvenirs, postcards, and gift books for the faithful to take home with them—for a small donation, of course—just like others have done.
In the end, we decided not to open up our house for pilgrimages. I don't think our landlord would have appreciated all the people milling about and tracking mud all over the carpets. Besides, it would have upset the neighbors and disturbed the cat. It might have even caused our rent to go up.
Of course, there is the possibility of a more natural reason for this seemingly supernatural shadow. Especially in light of the fact that the image is the combined shadow of two pieces of bric-a-brac on the top shelf, sitting above the level of a floor lamp. The figures of Mary and Joseph are produced by an angel standing at just the right angle. Baby Jesus in the manger is formed from the roof tops of a cluster of cottages.
In fact, the original image disappeared some time ago when we rearranged the items on the shelf. I only repositioned them today in order to reproduce the nativity-like image.
However, the mere suggestion that the shadow is Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus is enough to make most people see the image of the nativity on the wall. That, and the desire to see something special and unique, is virtually guaranteed to turn some people into True Believers who would always believe it is a miracle despite the fact that I arranged the items and produced the image myself. How it got there would not matter, all that would matter is that they saw it and they believe it.
The seeing is believing crowd is ripe for deception. As stage magician and illusionist, the Amazing Randi, observed, "[W]e conjurers are never more amused than when we hear that canard, 'Seeing is believing.' We, above all others, know well that such a claim is not necessarily true…!" More importantly, the Bible warns us in Matthew 24:24 "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
People who seek after signs and wonders, such as those willing believe that Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus would hang out on my wall at night, are fodder for religious con artists. Religious con artists prey on gullible people with all manner of religious frauds and hoaxes in an effort to fleece the faithful. They are "evil men and seducers," according to 2 Timothy 3:13, that "shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
:    The television and radio airwaves are filled with religious hucksters presenting God as nothing more than a genie in the sky, preying on the desperate and deluded as the multiplied millions of dollars flow into their bank accounts. "Send me one thin dime—the kind you can rub between your fingers—along with your prayer request and a generous offering," said the Reverend Ike on the radio late one night, "And I'll put that dime—the kind you can rub between your fingers—into a small pool of water brought from the Holy Land and present your request to the Lord!" "Send a seed gift!" say others. Of course, the size of your gift is a measure of your faith and the more faith you have the more likely God will grant your wish.
Its no wonder! The religious hucksters are merely following in the footsteps of their father the Devil who, according to the Scriptures, is the great deceiver "which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9)." He uses false religions, false prophets, supernatural visions and apparitions, and outright trickery and dishonesty to deceive.
Consequently, people are willing to believe and fall for the most amazing things—all in the name of religion! They'll drive for hours to light candles and fill up bottles and jugs with healing "holy" water from a spring at a Catholic shrine near Emmitsburg, Maryland. They'll flock to out of the way barns and grain silos just to get a glimpse of Mary in the twilight. They'll attend healing services in Cleveland where a local radio figure claims a faith healer in Cleveland healed his eyes, enabling him to see again, though he still used his cane while the interviewer guided him by the arm. And they'll gladly leave a generous donation while they are at it.
But, go across the street or across town to a Bible believing Baptist church where the gospel is preached, souls are saved, and lives are changed? Too much trouble! Not enough time! All they ever do is ask for money!
Selfish greed under the guise of religion is nothing new. Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8, like the fortune tellers of today, bewitched people with sorceries for personal gain. In Acts 19, Demetrius the silversmith cloaked his own selfish desires in the garb of religious piety and the defense of his goddess, Diana.
In the medieval ages, the Roman Catholic church held sway over Europe. She increased her hold on the people—and her wealth—through a variety of signs and wonders and invented doctrines whereby she deceived many. Apparitions of Mary, bones of the Saints, and various religious relics served to lure the faithful in where they would gladly give to see or be in the presence of the supernatural. Penance, purgatory, indulgences, candle burning combined to flood the church coffers as well.
Now I know the Bible is a supernatural book. And I know that we have a supernatural God. However, we also have a supernatural enemy who, "as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)." Fraud and trickery have worked for him from the Garden of Eden to this very day.
Remember, all that is miraculous is not of God. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)" "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)"
But then again, it’s a lot easier making shadows on the wall. Maybe I'll take my bric-a-brac over to my parents and put Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus up on the side of their barn some night. I'm sure they'll split the profits with me…!
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