Over the weekend my 4-year-old granddaughter asked me why she couldn’t see God. I tried to explain to her that there is “seeing” – and then there is “S E E I N G” !!!!
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I remember looking at photographs of the Grand Canyon in the United States before our family took a trip there. They were lovely and detailed pictures. If someone asked if I had ever “seen” the Grand Canyon at that point, I’d likely have replied that I had seen pictures, but had not seen it in “real life” yet.
Well, let me tell you that seeing PICTURES of the Grand Canyon is NOTHING like actually “S E E I N G” it in real life. There is simply no comparison. The size and grandeur of the canyon are literally breath-taking and awe-inspiring in ways that photos simply cannot prepare you for. First of all, it is FAR TOO LARGE to even begin to see the entire Grand Canyon at once; it extends beyond the horizon in multiple directions. And it is deeper than your eyes can penetrate, with walls and shadows that create marvelous imagery. You may THINK you know what you’ll see, but nothing you look at or read can fully prepare you for the actual experience. Even actually “seeing” the Grand Canyon isn’t REALLY seeing the Grand Canyon.
Seeing God is like that. There may be small aspects of Him and His magnificence that he reveals. Moses had that experience on Mount Horeb. But even Moses couldn’t truly see God in His fullness and total magnificence. Peter, James and John saw an aspect of Christ’s glory while with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration. But they did not behold HIs full glory and majesty. Whatever small glimpses or aspects God chooses to reveal, however miraculous and majestic His revelation may be, no one can say they have truly, fully and completely seen God. Because there is “seeing” – and then there is “S E E I N G” !!!!
Then along comes John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved. He was one of the select three on the Mount of Transfiguration. John knew what He had seen on the mountain. He was the same one who received the heavenly visions on the Isle of Patmos that became the book we know as the Revelation of Jesus Christ. John knew what He had seen on the mountain. And it is this same John who writes today’s verse:
NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD, BUT IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER HIS LOVE IS MADE COMPLETE IN US.
If anyone knew he had “seen” God it was John. He’d even been in the upper room when Thomas declared to Jesus, “My Lord and My God.” He knew that Jesus hadn’t corrected that statement, but commended Thomas for his faith. But John knew there is “seeing” – and then there is “S E E I N G.”
John knew that, while he may have “seen” God, there was no way he had “S E E N” God.
So I find it fascinating that it is John, of all people, who introduces this concept of God’s love being made complete in us as we love one another. And it is John who ties it to seeing God.
Here’s the Bishop Robert translation of what I think John is saying when he tells us NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN GOD, BUT IF WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER HIS LOVE IS MADE COMPLETE IN US.
No one has fully seen God, ever. I haven’t and you won’t; at least not on this side of glory. But if you want to see the MOST COMPLETE picture you can get of God — look at His people as they live out the love He has placed in their hearts. THAT is where you will “see” God. And what you “see” ought to make you hungry and thirsty for more of that love. Getting the opportunity to “see” God as His love is lived out on earth ought to make you absolutely yearn to ” S E E ” God in every way possible, whatever the cost. When you “see” God lived out, it should absolutely COMPEL you to want to ” S E E ” God face to face.
That’s our job as people who claim to believe in Christ. To love one another so well and so fully that people can “see” God as they look at our lives.
When you look at my life, I have one very important question …..
CAN YOU SEE GOD ????