"Why can't I see God?" is one of the most asked questions in all of history. "Is He playing 'hide and seek?'" Great question. And it should be answered.
When I was in high school, a girl walked up to me in the hallway between classes and said, "Why doesn't God just show Himself to me? If I could see Him with my own eyes, I would believe in Him." Our exchange sent me on a lifelong quest to be able to answer that question.
Here is what I know so far.
1) It started out that way.
"And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day..." (Genesis 3:8)
God and Adam and Eve seemingly had a face-to-face, open relationship. But immediately after they embraced sin, they heard God's footsteps and hid themselves so that He would not see them naked and in their sinful state.
That was the end of that.
The condition of sin separates us from a righteous God. Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. The face-to-face relationship was no longer possible - at least not for now. A sinner seeing God's face would be like standing close enough to the sun to touch it. You would be the first... and the last. (Can you say “fried?”) That would be the end of you.
God loves you too much for that to happen.
2) He became visible through the physical presence of His Son.
"He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Col. 1:15)
"For in Him (Christ) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily..." (Col. 2:9)
God wants to be visible. He wants us to see Him, to know Him, and to have a relationship with Him. He went to the extreme to reveal Himself to us face to face through the physical presence of His Son, born into our likeness.
Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father."
But there's more...
3) Jesus, in the flesh, was not a long-term, practical solution.
His capacity to relate to us personally was hindered by the limitation of being a single human. His ability to have close friendships was limited to about the same as it would be for any of us.
He could only relate closely to twelve. Then there were three - Peter, James, and John - who were more intimate. He even had a "closest" friend... John, the disciple, was the "one that Jesus loved."
Even if God made Himself visible to us and were here on earth sitting on a physical throne, your belief in Him would be based on scientific fact. You would believe because you could see, not because you know Him personally.
God does not want that. He wants you!
4) "Inside" is closer than "beside".
Jesus left the scene (ascended to heaven) after the resurrection for at least two reasons. First, He had paid the price for sin on the cross and had defeated the power of sin and death through the resurrection. The way was paved for a personal relationship with the Father again, like Adam and Eve - except better. This time He would not just walk with us, but would in fact, live in us.
We think the disciples had the edge on us because they had Jesus with them, in the flesh. But I guarantee they would tell you that having Him in them by the presence by the Holy Spirit after Pentecost, was far greater than having Him within tangible reach. Inside is closer than beside.
5) If God can be seen, then you are not needed.
The other reason Jesus left us physically was to get out of the way - literally. The plan of God for created man, from the very beginning, was that we would become the demonstration of "who He is and what He does" for all of heaven to see firsthand.
The following scripture has opened my eyes to a bigger picture.
"...To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places..." (Eph. 3:10)
One-third of the angels had been thrown out of heaven with Lucifer because of their misunderstanding of who God is. (By the way, they could most likely see God visibly. It didn't seem to make a difference.) God's plan to reveal who He was to rest of heaven, for whatever reason, was to create us and demonstrate this in and through us, by Christ through His Holy Spirit.
It is why you were created in the image of God and created again, "in Christ Jesus."
Jesus was our example. We are now to become like Him, and reveal what He and His kingdom are all about, i.e., the way we live, the way we love, the way we serve and change the world.
You would not be needed if you weren’t allowed to be the instrument through which He would reveal Himself. It's your purpose and destiny.
6) We are Jesus to the world.
"...You shall be witnesses to Me... to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
Jesus now lives His life in and through you and me.
"He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being..." (Acts 17:27-28)
By the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is able to accomplish so much more in and through His people. That was the point in the first place.
You are the "visible" part of God to those who do not believe.
"Now you are the body of Christ..." (1 Cor. 12:27)
It is you that must be seen!
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matt. 5:14)
7) And yes, God is playing hide and seek.
"...Seek and you will find..." (Luke 11:9)
He does not want you to simply acknowledge His reality and believe in Him from a distance. He wants intimate, personal relationship with you... the kind that can only be discovered in the deepest part of your heart: your spirit.
When you allow Him to take up His residence there, you will have the capacity to know Him more closely than you thought possible.
That's what He wants... and it's what I want.
I want His presence on the inside. I want to know Him in my heart. I want the resulting power of His presence in my life. I want to fulfill my purpose and my destiny. I want to be an instrument through which He can live and work and accomplish His plans.
God wants you to seek Him with your heart! He does not want you to see Him with your eyes at a distance. Even a few inches would be too far away. He wants you to know Him from His position in your spirit, from the inside out, not the outside in.
And that takes you seeking Him daily, moment by moment, which is what He wants.
Here is what I learned in my marriage. I do not want Carol to just be in the same house and say she loves me. I want her to seek me out... to discover what is in my heart.
I want her to desire to be with me enough to discover who I am. By the way, she would say the same thing about my relationship with her. We both love that phone call during the day, when we are not actually with one another.
You can say you’re my best friend all you want. But if you are not seeking me out, then I know your love is from a distance. And that's okay. We can only be intimate with a few. But don't call me your best friend if you are not seeking me out, and don't say you really know me if you are not discovering who I am on a regular basis.
That's what God wants.
That's why You will not see Him visibly in front of you.
Yes, He really is playing "hide and seek".
That is exactly His plan!
By the way: open your eyes. You will discover Him in all of creation. You will discover Him in the scriptures. You will discover Him working in your life. You might even discover Him in the people around you.
Seek and you will find!