Who has seen God? It’s a good question. From a biblical point of view no one, except Jesus, and men killed him. The Apostle John stated categorically – ‘No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.’
Christians sometimes say that the only time people will ever see God or Jesus is in the life of the Christian. Although I can understand and appreciate the sentiment – if that is true then millions of people have no conception of the true God whatsoever – and that includes many who see, interact with and observe ‘Christians’ every day both inside and outside of the church.
I will be really honest and say that if my apprehension, understanding and experience of a Holy, Just, Loving, Merciful and Gracious God was based exclusively on what I see most days in many self-professed Christians I would have abandoned my faith a long time ago.
These facts beg a very serious theological question for me – and it is this. How culpable, before a holy God, are most of the people I rub shoulders with every day whose conception of God is only what they have seen in the ‘Christians’ they have known and with whom they have interacted. This question presses on me more and more.
I speak to such people – and when the subject of faith comes up, and it does, most times they rail against the hypocrisy, avarice, pride and immorality of those they know who proclaim themselves as ‘Christian’. Honestly, in such conversations, I have little left to say other than to try and impress on them that what they have seen and experienced is not true Christianity. But for many of these folk – especially the older generation who, as I have said, have spent a lifetime observing and experiencing the hypocrisy of ‘Christians’ there is no way through. Increasingly I find it difficult to defend the indefensible, and again, I am forced to ask myself, if this is all they have ever seen of God – at what level are they culpable before Him?
To this extent perhaps – that, if they can read – and if they have ever taken the time to read the Bible, they may have seen a different Jesus. But not much more – unless by direct intervention the real Jesus has revealed himself to them.
And so many of my ‘non-Christian’ neighbours live, as an unreached tribe in a distant, ancient jungle – or a child of no understanding, it total and utter ignorance of the God who is Love. If we think we do not live among such people we are deceiving ourselves – and with every day that passes their jungle becomes darker, deeper and more remote. This came home to me some time ago when I fell into a conversation with a man in my community who made no claim to being Christian. He told me that, as a teenager, there were godly men he respected and admired, and who were highly regarded by all. He then went on to say he could think of none such today. How tragic.
I have lived long enough to know myself the problems those who have never seen a true reflection of the Father Heart of God face. Really it doesn’t matter how many evangelical campaigns, special services or mission churches run – if the people in them do not live as Jesus lived. I too meet such people and interact with them from time to time. There are, thankfully, many who are not like this – but the number who are is truly alarming – men of the cloth, as they say, among them.
It is a very long time indeed since if have spoken or written on matters relating to eschatology – these things pertaining to the future or Bible prophecy. Honestly, I do not feel qualified to do so. But I am reminded that the great precursor to the end of this age is not, as some claim, a great worldwide revival of religion, but a great falling away. Paul, writing to the early church clearly says so – ‘ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first’. That day refers to ‘the day of Christ’ when He will at last be revealed to all people in his glory and majesty when he returns as promised to this earth. Indeed did Jesus not say himself – ‘Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?'(Luke 8). Could we be living in that day?
To those who have been put off by religion and religious people – to those who see the hypocrisy and all the other negative things we have mentioned – all I can say is that as well as the false, the counterfeit – there is also the reality of a God who is love, grace and mercy – and that this God loves you unconditionally – and wants to walk life with you in your troubles, loneliness and desperation. There is Hope – even in our increasingly hopeless world. This is truly the good news of which Jesus speaks! So may that same God help us who claim to know Him live in such a way that someone somewhere may see a reflection of our God in us – that even a few, in our lost and broken world, may yet return to the house of The Father.
‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’