May 16, 2016 • Life for Leaders
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
In my experience, one of the hardest things about having a relationship with God is the fact that I can’t actually see God. Oh, I believe I can see evidence of God in the world. And I know that God makes himself known to us in all sorts of ways, through Scripture, through the community of his people, etc. I also believe that God was once visible on earth through the person of Jesus Christ. But, of course, Jesus is not physically present in that way anymore. So, when it comes to our relationship with God, we confront the problem of God’s invisibility to us.
The unique Son of God, who has seen God, makes God known to us. As we trust in him, as we learn from him, as we follow him in every part of life, we will come to know God better and better.
Yet, according to Revelation 22, the time will come when that problem will be solved. In the New Jerusalem, not only will we be able to serve God directly, we’ll also be able to see God directly. We will, as John writes, “see his face” (22:4).
When we consider this privilege in the wider context of Scripture, we realize how amazing it is. Moses, as you may recall, was not permitted to look at God’s face because, as God said, “No one may see me and live” (Exod 33:20). John 1:18 states that “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”
As we come to know God, we yearn to know him more intimately, to see his face. The psalmist writes, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?” (Psalm 42:2, NRSV). Can you join the psalm writer in this longing? Do you wish you could see God face to face, to know God in a whole new way?
If you have not experienced God’s love and grace in Christ, you may not have this particular yearning. The idea of seeing God so directly may be frightening to you. But if you are convinced of God’s love for you, if you know that God sees you with eyes of grace, if you believe that, in Christ, nothing can separate you from God’s love, then the thought of seeing God directly will stir your heart. It will inflame your desire to know God more truly and deeply.
John’s vision in Revelation 22 fills us with anticipation. Yet, the fact that we cannot see God directly now does not mean we cannot know him. Remember the good news of John 1:18. The unique Son of God, who has seen God, makes God known to us. As we trust in him, as we learn from him, as we follow him in every part of life, we will come to know God better and better.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you think about seeing God’s face, what comes to mind? What do you think? What do you feel?
Are you absolutely convinced that when God looks directly into your eyes, his eyes will be filled with love and joy? If so, why? If not, why not?
Gracious God, with the psalmist, our hearts yearn for you. Our souls thirst for you. We wonder when we shall come and behold your face. We ache to know you more deeply than we know you today.
Thank you for the promise of Revelation 22, for the certain hope that one day we will see your face. We look forward to that time.
In the meanwhile, we thank you for all the ways you make yourself known to us. We thank you most of all for Jesus Christ, the Son who shows us the Father, the Incarnate Word who allows us to see God in human flesh.
Help me this day, Lord, to know you truly, to live in relationship with you throughout the day. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.