Summary: This sermon is about worshipping an invisible God because of his grace, truth, and glory.
"Seeing the Invisible"
by Reverend A.LaMar Torrence,
Cross of Life Lutheran Church
Down through out the ages, through the chronicles of time, humanity has built up images of God from within the corners of our minds. We have created idols of silver, brass, wood, and gold hoping to capture the essence of a Supreme Being who could be credited for our blessings and cursing in life. From the great pyramids of Egypt to the charms, dolls, and fetishes of island voodoo; from Michaelangelo’s “ceiling” in the Sistine Chapel to the multifaceted stain glass windows of our local churches, humanity has sought to capture the divine in some unique form. We are a people that need visible evidence of God’s existence. We need some sign that he is omnipresent in our lives.
We want a god that is with us and about us as we travel throughout our earthly existence. Oh, we may not have built false idols, but we too want a manifestation of god’s power and love here on earth. We may not be rubbing the tummy of a statue of Buddha in our living room but we all want some more luck and prosperity in the coming new year. We may not have a white elephant with its trunk turn upward at doorway but we all want a God who will safeguard our homes and family. We may not have eaten a pot of black eye peas, or carried a rabbit foot in our pocket at the turn of the year but we all want a God who will blesses us and keep us in our comings and goings. We all some visible sign that will be with us has we go forth in 1999.
For us God has to be real. We need some sign, some burning bush, and some miraculous proof that God is with us and for us. We, who are to walk by faith, tend to worship that which appeals to our sight. We are attracted to a God who looks like us, thinks like us, and often acts like us. From the blue-eyed, blonde hair Christ of Western Europe to the blue-black, dread-lock wearing Jesus of South Africa, we all have mental images of this invisible awesome God we worship from Sunday to Sunday. As one preacher said, “God created humankind in his image, so we return the favor and make him into our own image.” Our gods tend to resemble us. From the physical ascetics to the spiritual pragmatics, we have often attempted to conjure images of a God that appeals to us. Some of us worship an angry and judgmental gods because we are an angry people – frustrated with the world and ourselves. And, some of us have a vengeful god of fire and brimstone because we are unforgiving and lack sacrificial love. And still others have a liberal, passive god; because of the free lifestyle and wayward living they value so highly and tolerate. Our gods tend to resemble us. We ascribe to the invisible One the disposition that appeals to us.
And yet, John the apostle tells us that no one has ever seen God. The true God cannot be made visible by any kind of image formed in our minds or conjured from our deepest imaginations. He remains invisible. No one has ever laid his eyes upon the Holiest of Holies. No one has ever captured a glimpse of the great ‘Jehovah ’. No one has ever seen the god of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac. Moses only caught a peek at his back in wilderness. Daniel at best saw his hair of pure wool and feet of polish brass. No one has ever seen God. Thus, we are left to envision our God through the use of similes and metaphors limited to the vocabulary of Webster’s dictionary. As Christians, we are left with typologies and figurative language to describe to the world the God we worship. We can only tell an unsaved generation that our God is like a refiner’s fire burning eternally and yet at the same time, he’s living water that quenches our thirst. He’s the lion of Judah that bit the sting out of death and yet, he is the Lamb of God slain for the sins of humanity. He’s the mighty Logos – the spoken word and the Word that speaks thought into action. He’s our rock in a weary land, our shelter in the time of storm. He’s the wheel in the middle of a wheel, our rose of Sharon, our lily of the valley and bright morning star. He’s the alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. And yet the most poetic verses from a Longfellow’s ballad or Shakespearean prose can not capture the magnitude of our Majestic God. God himself could only described himself to Moses as being the “I am who I am”. There are not human words to give us a visible image of Elohim. He still remains unseen.