Have You Seen God?

Have you seen God? John was very plain in saying, “No one has seen God at any time.” Do you know what God looks like? Many have undergone the futile task of trying to imagine what God looks like. All kinds of paintings and sculptures have been done through the centuries, and those artistic works reflect the imagination of the artist. They do not reflect reality, because no one could even come close to describing the features of God. God is a Spirit (John 4:24). We see in Scripture that He has hands, eyes, and arms, but we also see God described as having wings. It is all figurative and descriptive.

We go back simply to the words of John, “No one has seen God at any time.” But then again, I ask the question, “Have you seen God?” I can with all certainty and conviction say most positively, “Yes!” I have seen God, face to face, because His image and heart is being reflected and lived out in His people.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit (1 John 4:11-13).

“If we love one another, God abides in us.” Did you see that? God is seen in His people. Christ is reflected in His body. I often preach and discuss the concept of “putting skin on” these Bible concepts. I didn’t come up with that, God did. Notice how John begins his gospel account in chapter 1,

And the Word became flesh (put skin on) and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him (John 1:18).

See that phrase again? “No one has seen God at any time.” But Jesus put skin on, He became flesh and we saw God in the flesh. When you see Jesus in Matthew through John, you see God face to face. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Not only do we see God in the face of Jesus, we now see God in the face of the people who walk with Him. Jesus develops His heart and His love within His people and then we reflect the face and nature of God in our lives. We become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Have you seen God? Well, if you like me have experienced the love of God lived out among His people then you can shout from the mountaintops with all confidence that you have seen God.

So who will be seen in our lives today? Will people see God through us? Do they hear God when we talk? Are we reflecting the image and glory of God in our relationships?

May God be seen in us today.

Misplaced Compassion

“When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him.  But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.  When His disciples James and John saw, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’  And they went on to another village.”  Luke 9:51-56

Do you see the compassion of James and John in this passage?  You think I’m crazy, right?  This passage is all about James and John bringing down judgment and their failure to have compassion.  But consider why they got upset in the first place.  Is there any indication that James and John were violent, spiteful men?  I don’t believe they made a habit of walking around, looking for offense, so they could “justify” human BBQs.  So what caused this strange and irrational response to the Samaritans?  I think there are two prominent elements at work here.

First, we know there is a long history of animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans and the Jews did not hide their feelings of superiority.  But second, and most important, James and John had a deep love, respect and loyalty towards Jesus.  In fact, I believe their fiery reaction is driven by compassion for Jesus.  After all, this is their Teacher, their Lord, the Messiah, and He is being treated with such disrespect.  Who among us wouldn’t feel compelled, even obligated, to defend Jesus from such an insult?  But in their compassion for Jesus they fail to recognize the purpose and motivation of Jesus.

Friends and brothers, far too often this happens to us.  Our loyalty to a teaching or a political ideology and our disdain for the perversion of the opposing viewpoint can blind us to the purpose and motivation of Jesus.  We can stand firmly on the “truth” of God’s word, calling down fire from heaven to destroy all those who stand in opposition and completely fail to recognize that God intends His word to heal and to save.  I believe most of us are driven by a sincere love for God but we succumb to the temptation to “fight fire with fire” and end up “returning evil for evil”.

If we are truly disciples of Jesus then we will consider how He reacted to the sin and perversion in His world.  Of course He didn’t shy away from the truth and, at times, He was confrontational but it was always driven by His desire and purpose to save men’s lives.  Can we say the same about us?  When I post that political article on FB or I respond to that “ignorant” comment, am I trying to save men’s lives?  When I defend my viewpoint or attack false teaching, is it for the purpose of saving the lost?  To my shame, the answer is often “no”.  We can be “right” and still be so very wrong.

Ultimately, Jesus let the opposition have their way.  He allowed the darkness of mankind to overwhelm the Light of the world.  He endured the most unjust and wicked trial the world has ever seen and He “opened not His mouth”.  When He was confronted with venom and hatred and malice He showed compassion and mercy saying, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  And what was the result of such selflessness?  What did Jesus hope to accomplish?  “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32)  I submit to you that the “drawing” power of the gospel is the mercy and compassion of our Lord.  The humble submission of Jesus to His accusers and abusers is the very thing that continues to call men out of darkness and into the light.

There will always be a need for bold preaching.  We will always have the opportunity to stand for truth and oppose false ideals and doctrine.  But when we follow the example of our Lord, and we are driven by mercy and compassion, we will experience something amazing; we will see men drawn to Jesus.

Greater is He who is in you

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4-6).

It may seem like evil is winning. We may groan, cry and sigh like Lot did over Sodom (2 Peter 2:8). Tears may flow down our eyes as they did for David and Jeremiah because people do not keep God’s law (Psalm 119:136; Jeremiah 9:1). Just as Elijah was tempted to despair, thinking he was all alone, we might begin to feel the same way (1 Kings 19).

Greater is He who is in you

In all of this, however, we must call our minds back to 1 John 4:4. Satan is not winning…Christ is victorious. The wickedness and evil people around you will not overwhelm and conquer you because God is in you. He is greater. God is greater than Satan. Do not despair. Please do not throw your hands up and ask, “What’s the use?”

If Jesus Christ lives within you, then you are overcoming the world. You can overcome the temptations of this world through Christ. With His strength you can withstand the blast of Satan’s blows. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper…” (Isaiah 54:17). The Devil has thrown everything he has at God’s people and yet we still stand, because Jesus promised it (Matthew 16:18). Christ’s power, not our own, is working.

As I have heard many preachers say over the years about the book of Revelation, “I have read the end of the book and Jesus wins!”

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).