“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
For a season this past year, I had been going through a bit of a dry season in my relationship with God. Though in my head I knew that God never has and never will abandon me, my flawed and corrupted emotions often try to tell me otherwise–that when I sin, God turns His face away; or when I make a wrong decision, God shakes His head at me in disappointment.
Often my instinct is to therefore turn away from God and give us both some time to “cool off,” as I would with a friend or a family member with whom I had argued with. Though I could not see it then, looking back, I can see that my biggest problem was that unlike with a family member or a friend, I cannot physically come to God in order to “make things right.”
I cannot look him in the face and see how he feels about me in the moment; I cannot see if I am coming at a “good time” for him. Of course, looking back on this now it seems rather silly, to think that there is a bad time for God; or that because I cannot physically see him I cannot know how he feels about me. But issues that are daunting at the time always seem rather silly when you are on the other side of them, don’t they?
Am I Fully Seeing God?
One night, as I was laying in bed and praying while I waited for sleep to come, I was reflecting on 1 Corinthians 13:9-10, which reads as follows, “For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.” As of late, Satan had managed to convince me that God’s feelings and love towards me fell under the “seeing in part.” I had become (wrongly) convinced that because I can’t see God, I couldn’t connect with God.
I was thinking of how true this seemed to be, especially considering the season I was in, when a phrase hit me–look to Jesus. This isn’t a new phrase for me, as I’ve said it countless times to so many others, and even to myself this past year as God has been busy turning me more towards Christ. However, I had become distracted.
I had begun to decide for myself how I ought to relate to God and how he feels about me, forgetting (or perhaps being blinded to) the fact that God has fully expressed himself and his feelings for me in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit through Paul expresses this beautifully in his letter to the Colossians:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
The fullness of God has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, who is the center of all things!
But what does that actually mean? And how does it apply to our lives?
SEE GOD’s power
It means that if you want to see God’s sovereignty, you can look to Jesus. Nothing about Jesus’ life was accidental or incidental. From the very timing of his birth (Gal. 4:4) to his death (1 Peter 1:18-20, Revelation 13:8) God had not only foreseen but had ordained Jesus’ life, and even revealed it to his people through his prophets beforehand (see Isaiah 53:2-12).
Even the darkest day in human history–the day Jesus died–was planned by the Father. Though God is without sin and darkness himself, he will use the sin and darkness of this earth to accomplish his purposes.
As I reflect on this, I think of Joseph, his multi-colored coat, and his jealous brothers who sold him into slavery because of his position as their father’s favorite child. As his brothers later came to him and recanted of their actions, Joseph makes a statement that is fitting also for the torture and death of Christ. He says, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.” (Genesis 50:20).
This is not to say that evil was not committed at the hands of sinful men. It most certainly was. The point is that God is sovereign over all–even the most heinous acts men can commit. And so it is with Jesus–what Satan and the Sanhedrin and the Romans intended for evil, God intended for good. He intended to send Jesus to live the life we could never live and die the death that we deserved before we even existed.
If we want to see if God is powerful enough to deal with the problems in our life, all we have to do is look to Jesus
SEE GOD’S HOLINESS
The fullness of God revealed in Christ means that if you want to see God’s holiness, you can look to Jesus. God is perfect and holy and without any sin. He will not allow sin in his presence and he will not allow sin to go unpunished, because for him to allow sin to go unpunished would make him less than good. (Numbers 14:18, Proverbs 11:21, Job 10:14).
That is why God sent Jesus to take our punishment upon himself–he loves us and desires for us to know him, but we are sinners, and for God to allow us as we are into his presence would be an offence to him. Therefore, our sin had to be punished, and the true and proper wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). But God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to pay the full penalty of our crimes, enabling us to be cleansed and therefore to be given full access to his presence.
If we want to see the complete holiness and perfectness of God, all we have to do is look to Jesus.
SEE GOD’S LOVE
The fullness of God in Christ means that if you want to see God’s love, you can look to Jesus! Again, the price needed to be paid for our sin and God in His holiness and goodness could not merely overlook it. It had to be paid for. However, Jesus coming and paying for it was not coercion on either part. God did not have to convince Jesus to do it and Jesus did not have to force God to accept his sacrifice. All three members of the Godhead were in full agreement about Jesus’ life and mission (see Luke 3:21-22 and John 5:19).
And they did it because they loved us and want to commune with us intimately. Even while we still rebelled against him and hated him, even before we were born, he loved us and was already planning the work that would draw us to himself (Romans 5:8).
If we ever wonder if God truly loves us, if we are ever unsure that he cares, we can simply look to Jesus and see.
Find God Not In Your inner Feelings, But In the incarnation
The list goes on and on. I was trying to “find God” using a map of my own making–namely, my feelings–when God had already revealed himself fully to me in Jesus, who is the Word become flesh and all the fullness of God revealed to us.
Of course there is no “good time” for a sinner to come to God–there is no time when a sinner will be ready to face God on his own. That is why God came to us. And it is why he continues to be there for us. On our own before we were redeemed by Christ, we were dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1) and if we rely on ourselves or on our ability to climb up to God or to make ourselves worthy, we are completely hopeless.
But God loved us so much that he came to us and lifted us from the miry clay of sin and death–and not only that, but he continues to preserve us until that day when we do see him face to face (1 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14).
Though we cannot see God face to face now, we can find everything we need for life and salvation in the person of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as you feel distant from God and desire to know how He feels about you, look to Jesus and find comfort.