God is invisible. Or is He?
In last week's blog, I mentioned Adam and Eve probably seeing God face to face before sin got in the way of His righteousness. Then there is Jesus, who was "the image of the invisible God." And the apostle Paul left us with no excuse by pointing out that the invisible attributes of God are clearly seen in all of creation. Every time I see a newborn baby, I say, "There is a God!"
...the boldest visual of God known to mankind is right under our nose, and we don't even realize it.
Have you ever asked yourself, "Why did Jesus leave the planet after the resurrection? Why didn't He, the Son of God, finish the job of convincing people that God was real? It seems that in His resurrected state, it would be a shoe-in.
But that was not God's plan.
If He did that, you would no longer be needed. Your very purpose would be eliminated.
Jesus went to the cross and died and conquered death so that God would no longer have to separate Himself from us. Actually, it was not His ultimate goal to be "with us" as He was with Adam and Eve, or as Christ was "with us" in the flesh. He did not want to be "with us" as He was with Abraham, Moses, or David.
The goal of God was to go beyond the realm of "with us" and make it so that He could dwell "in us." The night before Jesus died, He told his disciples that He would go to the Father, but return through His Holy Spirit. He said that "We" (the Father and Him) would come to us and make Their home with us. (John 14. esp. vs 23).
Who needs God in front of them when He is dwelling inside of them?
But that's not the end. The end is not "in us." The mission is "in and through us."
We (believers in Christ) have become the visible proof of the invisible God. He reveals Himself through us.
Now you will say, "Well, so much for that! Doesn't seem that we are doing too well in that category."
But I didn't say that we are God or that if we are good enough, we will reveal Him. No, let me be really clear.
We are the visible proof of the invisible God.
"Now you are the body of Christ..." (1 Cor. 12:27)
Like it or not - even with all of our imperfections - we, believers in Christ, are the visible proof.
We are not perfect, especially if you judge us individually one by one. We have all sinned. We have all failed on some level. We have all deserved hell like everyone else.
…Which is exactly why this visual of God is so spectacular and miraculous.
Some of us are so familiar with it we do not even recognize it when it happens. It has helped me to travel to the other side of the world and see it in other cultures. The power of a believer's faith and love shine the brightest in the darkest of places.
God's plan, from the very beginning, was that man would become the visible demonstration of who God is and what He does. It is through us that God has chosen to reveal Himself. This is our very purpose in life.
Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)
I could spell out many different ways this is true. But most people will only see it if they have enough relationship with believers in Christ to see Him up close in their life.
There is the unbelievable peace that cannot be understood, and the love of God that conquers fear and hatred. There is unspeakable joy that empowers us to endure all hardship, and is, in and of itself, our strength. All of this and more are the supernatural attributes of God in the believer.
It is how we treat each other: the grace and mercy, the kindness and consideration, the giving and blessing of others.
But the best way to describe it is to see it. I leave you with this true story that changed my life.
When I was in the 7th grade, I was coerced and deceived into committing a horrendous, demoralizing, wicked deed. It was a year and a half before the integration of black and white would finally reach our school. Tensions were high. Someone dared me to throw salt in the eyes of an African American woman who was washing the dishes in our school cafeteria.
I was a Christian, but I wanted too much to be accepted by the boys in my class. Peer pressure can cause you to do things you don't really want to do.
But by the end of the afternoon, after lying to the principal about it (hell getting hotter), I fell on my face in repentance, called the principal from home and confessed. I told him that I would apologize to Mrs. Ragland.
That was on a Friday. Riding my bicycle to her house Monday afternoon was one of the hardest things I have ever done. For one thing, it was rare to see a white face in that neighborhood, even though it took me only about two or three minutes to get there.
When I knocked on the screen door (hoping no one was home), she peeked through the doorway of her kitchen and saw me at the front door. She went back into the kitchen and said curtly, "Come in, the door's open." I came in, wondering why she didn't come to the door, and sheepishly walked toward the kitchen. Here she was, up to her elbows in dough and flour, making biscuits.
She kept working, staring at the bowl, waiting for me to say something. Finally, knees shaking, and heart pounding, I said, "Mrs. Ragland, I'm the one who threw salt in your eyes the other day. I'm really sorry. I hope you can forgive me." Without hesitation, still kneading the dough furiously, that woman looked up at me with eyes that bore a hole right through my heart and said, "Honey, I forgave you the moment you did it!"
I cannot describe to you what happened in my heart that day. Officially, I’d become a Christian when I was six years old walking the aisle of my Baptist church at an evening revival service. But it was this day, at 12-years-old, that I knew what it meant to encounter God in the physical realm.
This day I saw God as visibly as He can be seen on this side of heaven. He revealed Himself through the spirit of a black woman covered in white flour. It was real. I felt it. I knew it. I saw it with my own eyes. God revealed Himself… from her heart… through her action... to this undeserved excuse of a Christian... right into my soul, desperately in need of healing.
I was forgiven. And she had made it happen. I was free. She had fixed my sorry, dark soul.
It was her. It was God. It was God through her. Mrs. Ragland was visible proof of an invisible God.
I had been taught that God forgives, but now I knew what it really felt like. I had seen it in her eyes. That love was from God. But it showed up in her face... and I can still see it today.
I have seen visible proof. Have you?
More importantly, can the people in your world see the visible proof of God in you? You may be the only visible connection to God they will ever have.
Jesus said, "You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden!"
He was talking about me and you.
Let's change the world together!