It wasn’t exactly a hush which swept over the room, but slowly the noise level began to drop as people’s attention shifted to the front of the room. Those present began to look up from their plates of nachos and chicken wings once they realized he had taken the stage.
My husband and I were enjoying the privilege of having been invited to an NFL draft party. It was a fun evening. We sat at a table with others, some of whom were engaged in serious discussion about which players the team might pick. Others were there for the food which flowed in abundance, and for the opportunity to catch up with friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. Large screen televisions positioned throughout the room featured running commentary and predictions about what might possibly transpire during the course of this year’s draft.
As the team’s head coach team stepped to the podium, many in the room jockeyed and maneuvered to catch a better glimpse of the man, live and in person. He didn’t speak long, and said little which seemed noteworthy or surprising.
He thanked the fans for their support. He said he and his staff would be working hard to find the best players for the team. He said they would have to wait and see what the other teams did, how the trades played out, and then try to make the best decision possible when it came time make a selection. He excused himself, saying he had a long night ahead of him and a lot of work to do. He said things one might expect a head coach to say.
The coach stepped down from the platform and was whisked out of the room by a number of large, imposing men wearing headpieces, men who looked as though they were put on this earth for no other reason than to serve as bodyguards. They escorted him through a door which led to his private elevator.
During the brief moments the coach was on stage, fans lifted cameras and cellphones and snapped away wildly. Those who were successful at capturing his picture went home with evidence that they had been in the man’s presence. They had seen him in person and heard him speak.
“No one has ever seen God,” wrote John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.
No one. Moses caught a glance that one time, just the tiniest glimpse of God’s back after he had passed by. No one, the Holy One told Moses, could see his face and live.
So how can anyone know God is real? What evidence points to his presence?
My pastor has been preaching through the book of 1 John during Sunday evening services. This past week, I was struck by these words:
No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. I John 4:12-17, ESV
When God’s people love, they reveal to the world the loving God who has never been seen. God abides in those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. His Spirit is at work in us, perfecting us, and teaching us to love others the way God does.
We, his image-bearers, get to embody God to those who have never seen him.
We do it when we visit the sick and offer the gift of our presence. We do it when we coach Little League teams and offer words of affirmation to those who otherwise receive little. We do it when we demonstration patience and kindness; when we do not insist on our own way. As we practice forgiveness, we bear witness to this unseen God.
My friend emily embodies this God of love when she puts down her paintbrush to mop up after four active little boys, holding them close and talking to them about Jesus. Women in my church communicate God’s love to international students by teaching them language skills so they can better navigate grocery stores and doctor’s appointments. My rock star diva girlfriend incarnates this loving God by offering her story of hope to women about to walk the road she has traveled triumphantly.
No one has seen God, but everywhere I see evidence of his presence, evidence that trumps a cellphone photo any day.
And this unseen God of love delivers a message worth listening to.
Linking with Michelle @ Graceful in her Hear It, Use It community:
And with Jen and the sisterhood: