Anglican Diocese of Armidale

The Anglican Diocese of Armidale exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus and helping them home to heaven.

 

In Focus

The troubling truth of the invisible God

Friday, November 30, 2018

Early morning is normally a time to take my seat near the garden window and to read the Bible and say my prayers. That may sound like a luxury to some, an indulgence in a world of demands and a comfort some consider they can’t afford. If you think that, then you have never taken the time to sit with the invisible God and reflect on the importance of prayer for the needs of this world.

Some of the most disconcerting moments of my life happen in my garden window chair with the Bible open. The Bible’s recent invitation for me to look into the life of the suffering Job was one of the most uncomfortable!

I think the thing that I found most confronting was the reminder that God is invisible. God being invisible might create belief problems that see some people declare, “If you can’t see it why would you believe it?” That is convenient but I think that statement is very revealing because, “if you can see it then that gives you some control over it.”  That is just so human and it fits the pattern of a humanity with all sorts of control issues.

What we can control we don’t need to fear. What we can control frees us from any constraints. But you can’t tie down the invisible, you can’t out play, out think or strike a victory blow on the invisible.  And while it is unsettling that God may be invisible to us, our vulnerability is exposed by the fact that we are not invisible to God.  Should an invisible God exist then this should strike terror into the heart of all those with control issues.

Knowing our capacity to try and control everything for our own ends it seems eminently wise for God to be invisible.

The problem is exemplified in the Christmas birth of Jesus Christ. He comes to our world as the fulfilment of the invisible God’s promises given over centuries. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. In other words, that first Christmas was the moment when the invisible God made himself known, to be seen, to be touched, to be experienced. He tamed seas, he silenced devils, he healed the sick but he confronted sin and called people to repentance. The outcome was that the control freaks crucified him but His resurrection from the dead made clear that God is not tameable or controllable. His ascension into the heavens made what was visible once again invisible and Jesus Christ’s promise to return in judgement is a terrifying thought for those dancing in disobedience, defiantly immoral, and always at war with the invisible God.

All this is why I found the invisibility of God so confronting. We can’t control an invisible God. Such a God will act in accordance with His own character, deliver his verdicts and exact vengeance independently of our complaints and the constraints we might want to place on God. The invisible God stands outside our created world and there is nothing we can do to defend ourselves against God’s righteous actions or the timing of them.

It is why Christmas is one of the two most crucial celebration of our year. No one was in control of Jesus Christ’s birth to a virgin but God. It was God who decided to visit with us. It was God who ruled to repair the broken and it was God who called people to surrender to His will. And while a world that loves to be in control eventually crucified the Christmas child, the invisible God was controlling our destiny. Man’s crude cross was God’s throne of justice on our sin, the mercy seat of God for our forgiveness, and the hope of our resurrection to eternal life.

We are not in control but the invisible God is and every Christmas we celebrate the refuge he offers to those who would let Him be in control.