Psalms 15, Exodus
Rev Canon Dr John Senyonyi Vice Chancellor
When my wife and I married, I soon realised the differences that exist between men and women are extensive! For example, she often wants to be complemented about how she looks before stepping out, while I put no emotional price tag to my appearance.
In the recent past we have lost three public figures: Mr Lawrence Mukiibi and Mr Ivan Semwanga, who had immense wealth, and our former student, Carol Atuhairwe. What is the legacy of each?
The two men apparently cared much about how they looked to the outside world, in death. They gave elaborate instructions about their funerals, making sure to receive flamboyant burials. Sadly, they have left scandal and controversy in their wake! In the public eye, they are a far cry from the picture they tried to portray in their lifetime.
Carol on the other hand attracted the nation with her shining faith. Whoever saw her beautiful smile, which really flowed from her faith, was enchanted by it. That is the way she looked, even in her suffering. She lived larger than this life and we all feel she is gone too soon.
So, which of these three lived a worthwhile life? David poses a question: Who shall sojourn in your tent … (or) dwell on your holy hill? This implicitly suggests the purpose of life, which is to be where God is; for there is no greater honour, no higher destiny. He sees dwelling in God’s presence as an exclusive experience, accessible to those with ‘a peculiar look’! When Israel sinned, God threatened not to go with His chosen people. Instead, He would give them an angel to cause them to inherit the Promised Land. However, Moses cried, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here”. He had obvious reasons for this.
God’s presence with us is the only fame that matters! “For how shall it be known that I have found favour in your sight … Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct..? Moses asks.
Moses feared losing his communion with the Lord, for God spoke with him “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”. What a privilege!
All our toil is vain if God is not with us. Moses knew that his failure in leadership was guaranteed without God, and that living apart from God is not worthwhile.
Living in God’s presence is for those with ‘a peculiar look’, the people who order their life for His holy presence. One word summarises our qualification for it: integrity! God’s foremost concern is our character, not our frantic services.
That is why the Bible exhorts us to, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.” We must be in secret what we appear to be in public; and it all begins with one’s heart.
Secondly, we need integrity of relationships. I recently heard this characterisation of someone, “I have never seen someone so difficult.”
Our relationships matter to God, and how we relate affects our prayers to Him. So, if a husband mistreats his wife, his prayers are futile. What is the state of your relationships?
Thirdly, we need integrity in the promises we make. Some Christians have a habit of promising to please; they speak to sound spiritual and caring. “I will be there for you. I will pray for you. I will …!”
Marriage vows are among the most serious promises we make and yet there is growing flippancy and apathy among young marrieds. Often this flows from their casual premarital relationships. But remember, God hates divorce. If we do not honour our marital vows or any other promise we make, we offer “the sacrifice of fools” promising what we do not mean.
Finally, we need integrity in our financial dealings. The things that have stumbled great men, including preachers, are: girls, glory and gold! Modern culture downplays promiscuity and dignifies self-glory but the consequences remain.
In particular, few can resist the allure of money. When relationships are based on financial gain, we take advantage of others and selfish gain takes centre stage. Money tempts us to want more, and the more we get the more we become hungry.
Who shall dwell on your Holy Hill? If you would live in God’s presence, I commend to you a life of integrity in all these areas. That is a worthwhile life; something that a flashy funeral cannot provide.