Sometimes I wish I could set up a Zoom call with God. I’d ask the Almighty to check the Divine calendar and put me on it so we can talk face-to-face. I wonder what God looks like.
If I saw God’s face, would I die like the Old Testament says? According to Exodus 33:20, God told Moses, “You cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” That’s scary!
No worries. Scripture scholars propose this verse means that the fullness of God’s glory and presence is overwhelming and beyond human comprehension. Mortal humans, due to their limited nature, can’t withstand the complete and unfiltered presence of God.
According to those men and women who understand the Bible much better than me, in the religious and cultural beliefs of the Old Testament, the ancient Israelites had a deep reverence for the divine and saw encounters with God as sacred and extraordinary events.
Portraying the Divine Presence as too overwhelming for humans was a way to convey the immense majesty and holiness of God.
So, maybe if we saw God’s face on Zoom, we wouldn’t die?
Fast forward to the New Testament.
God revealed the Divine Face directly to us through the human heart and body of Jesus. Those people who lived two thousand years ago when Jesus’ sandals trod upon earth’s soil got to see God’s face and touch his skin. That was face-to-face. Now, we’re getting somewhere!
But what about those of us who live after Christ died and ascended into heaven? How do we see God’s face?
Perhaps we can best answer that question by refocusing it: over the ages, how has God chosen to reveal the Divine Face to humanity?
At first, God revealed the Divine Face to us as the Father, the Almighty, who directly spoke to Moses and other prophets.
Then God showed us the Holy Face through the Son, Jesus, the man who walked the Earth. Jesus showed us how to love unconditionally.
After Jesus, poof! God placed the Divine Face in our sacred hearts as the Holy Spirit. We’re now God’s face, or at least the reflection of it.
God’s face reveals itself through our lives (John 14: 25-26). Since God is love and gave us the power to incarnate love, whenever we see love in ourselves and others, we are seeing the Divine Face of God.
It’s pretty clear we’re not going to get a Zoom call with God, but perhaps the Creator has chosen to give us something more real and lasting—the face of God revealed in all Creation.
Let’s put all this in street-level language.
When I look at my wife and experience her love, I see the face of God.
When I look at our children, the fruit of love between me and my wife, God reveals the Divine Face.
I see love’s face in my friends and in all the creatures of the Earth, including my dog Bailey and the birds outside my window chomping on the birdseed I put in the feeder for them this morning.
God has revealed the Divine Face to us through each other and through all creation. More importantly, the Creator has given us the responsibility to mirror the face of love by creating more love in the world.
Here’s the problem.
In a secular world that often drowns out our ability to see God’s face by capturing our attention with airbrushed models, I’ve-got-it all Hollywood and sports-town images, and gotta-have-it-buy-it-now consumerism, how do we keep focused on seeing the face of God and experiencing the Divine Presence that’s always there?
Here’s what my teachers over the years have suggested are important tools we can put into our spiritual toolboxes so we can see the face of tools we can put into our spiritual toolboxes so we can see the face of God despite the world’s attempts to obscure it:
Self-reflection and introspection
Take daily time for contemplation, meditation, and prayer to explore your own beliefs, values, and spirituality. Have coffee with the Creator each day because quiet time with God connects us with the Holy Spirit, who gives us the guidance we need to successfully walk through life’s ups and downs.
Study and explore
Read religious texts, philosophical works, and spiritual books to gain insights and deeper perspectives on the divine.
Reach out to spiritual leaders, mentors, or members of your faith community to provide guidance, support, and to learn from their personal experiences.
Practice meditation and mindfulness
Turn off or limit social media, the news, and other entertainment distractions. Engage in practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and being present in the moment to cultivate a deeper sense of awareness and connection with God and your Inner Self. Focus on your breath, which is the pneuma, the Spirit of God, breathing in and through you.
Engage in acts of compassion, kindness, and service to others. By using our unique talents and gifts to assist others, we experience the joy of Divine Love within us and within others.
Remember that the path to seeing God’s face and experiencing Divine Presence is personal and unique for each of us. It takes time, practice, and patience. It’s a life-long journey.
So, what’s the short answer to the silly question: how can we experience God face-to-face?
When we do the inner work by integrating some or all of the above spiritual practices into our daily lives, we learn how to look through the eyes of faith and love. We see with the eyes of God.
Then we experience God face-to-face as revealed in all Creation.
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