This post was inspired by a sermon by Nadia Boiz Weber, which you should check out.
I struggle with seeing God.
There’s something confessional about writing that, because it’s not that God can’t be seen or found. And yet I find it so easy to become blinded, blinded by the day-to-day, blinded by stress and worry, blinded by my own personal set of clobber texts that I use to justify why I don’t see God.
See, I’m better at theory than practice, always have been. I read the Bible and embrace the a-ha! moments when one verse or story resonates or argues or dances with another verse or story. But seeing how that waltz of the Spirit glides across the dance floor of my 21st century life? I find that trickier.
Maybe that’s why a certain phrase echoes throughout John’s gospel: “Come and see.” Jesus says it to potential disciples. Other people say it about Jesus. A grieving woman says it through tears to (finally!) bring Jesus into a situation. “Oh, the things you’ll see!” Jesus tells a sarcastic kid sitting under a tree. Yes, there are teachings and debates and moral lessons, but they come later, in the context of not keeping Jesus at a distance but of going where he’s going, planting your feet in his footsteps and taking the time to actually watch what he’s doing.
Of course, do that and he’ll start asking you to get you hands dirty – go to that disreputable part of town, hand out those loaves and fish, talk to the outsiders, shake hands with the lepers. Maybe that’s why I find it hard to see God – I prefer the comfort of the ivory tower, not because of its luxury but because of its safety. Because following means trusting, and if I’m being honest, my trust in God needs to expand its borders. The horizon is bigger than my boundaries.
Put that way, it’s better to come and see than to sit and read. Not that it’s wrong to sit and read (and if it is, Matt don’t want to be right!), but because Jesus is alive, God is love and the Spirit is on the move, and if we’re not engaging with or looking for that reality, faith becomes fossilised.
And so maybe it’s time to acknowledge that a messy, stumbling, following faith is better than running the risk of getting everything right but ending up as a clanging cymbal because something essential has been lost. The darkest moments of the church throughout the world and throughout the years have come when we’ve stopped seeing the love, grace and mercy of Christ and passionately embraced our dogma to the exclusion of our God. And change is delayed because we’re too focused on bemoaning the dark rather than adding to the light.
As with the church, so with the Christian. Same thing happens to me, far more than I like to admit. And that has to change.
Lord, help me to walk in your steps, and to see you in the following.