Sights and Insights
When we told you about the power and the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not telling clever stories that someone had made up. But with our own eyes we saw his true greatness. God, our great and wonderful Father, truly honored him by saying, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.”– 2 Peter 1:15-17 (CEV)
I recently ordered the book God’s Presence by Frances Young. It is a theology book giving a contemporary sense of how the ways that the early church spoke of the Christian faith might give us renewed insights for today. I have not read it yet, but hopefully it will be an interesting read. So far, though, the more memorable part about ordering the book was the notice of its arrival. I was looking at my Kindle when a notification popped up. It said, “God’s presence has been delivered to your door.” What in incredible message! I am going about my day, and suddenly receive a note that someone has brought God’s presence to my front door. What wonderful news! Should I rush out to see what God’s presence looks like? Is it in a box, or will everything simply seem glorious when I open the door? And can God’s presence really be confined to my doorstep? Won’t it seep through the door, or is it something that has to be invited in? This little notification raised so many deep questions.
Of course, we know on one level that God’s presence is everywhere. At the same time, we are rarely actually aware of God being present. This is a tension at the heart of our spiritual life. On the one hand we have been taught that God is always everywhere, but in our experience that makes no sense. How can God be everywhere? Besides, if God truly is everywhere why can we not see it? How would we know if God’s presence were delivered to our doorstep?
God’s presence is a way of speaking of the depths of meaning in life. It speaks to our experience of holiness; that is, our recognition that there is more to life than our routine tasks. There is an element of depth and purpose, and in experiencing it we are giving hope and new energy to have all of the mundane parts of our lives. In those moments of holiness, we have encountered the creative and creating God who is always coursing through this world bringing dynamic newness of life.
This is all rather abstract, though. This abstractness is precisely why we so often fail to notice God’s presence around us. We need something that draws our attention and gives us something to focus on. We need a message that God’s presence has arrived; go check your front door to see it. In Christ, we are given an image of what God’s presence looks like, and an invitation to see it and participate in it. Christ is the presence of God delivered to our doorstep, inviting us to open up and take a look. In the New Testament, we find accounts of the powerful transformations that occur when we open that box and experience what the presence of God is like. It is not merely a clever story, but a true experience of meaning and depth that is delivered directly to us, that we may open our eyes and see for ourselves.