Saturday, January 12, 2008

the hidden face of God

This is one of the many subjects I don't have much depth of understanding on, but one that I believe in, and one that I find fascinating: the hidden face of God. Michael Card, a very thoughtful, ongoing student (he's getting another degree of some sort right now, or has gotten it and I'm sure has always been reading; he was listening to Bonhoeffer's Life Together the same time I was working on that book when at last I had an opportunity to visit him, where I work) has a most interesting, and for me, edifying CD/music album entitled The Hidden Face of God. (Here's a short interview.)

A study of Scripture will reveal that we need the face of God for blessing, for shalom, for life to flourish; and when God turns his face away things fall into disarray. Of course there is the problem of the fact that no human being can see the face of God as it really is, and live. We have that problem ultimately solved in God becoming human, in the person of God's Son, Jesus. We read:
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ.
For me, the hidden face of God is part of my life and experience (I don't like to use the word "experience", because I think we've practically come to idolize experience. Though experience in its proper place is important and indispensable.) and understood rightly according to the revelation of God in Scripture and in Jesus, is a marked improvement over so much popular theology.

Psalmists (see here for uses of "face" in the psalms; very good and helpful) repeatedly speak of seeking the face of God. This is certainly ongoing for us; we need to do the same.

We also have seen that in Jesus we see the face of God. This makes for us the revelation of Jesus central in our effort to see the face of God. Jesus is at the center; we never are. But by faith we fit into this wonderful ongoing story of God.

What would you like to add to this, or any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I use to pray to Jesus and invision him as having the image of the picture on our wall above the desk. I was quite old and very surprised when I learned that it was not him. We have images of famous people in that time period like Cesarer, and wonder if we don't have a true picture of Jesus for a reason. I like the hymn that states attributes of who God is, and continue to try to understand and visualize Him through those attributes: Immortal, Invisible God only wise, in light unaccessable hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Pavilioned in splender, thy great name we praise! I long to know and worship God more.

Martin Stickland said...

Hello Ted,

It is the weekend and the sun is shining here in little old weekend!

Have a great day!!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nice to hear from you again on this blog.

For me the portraits or paintings of Jesus are neither here nor there. I find the "face" of Jesus through the portrayal of him in the gospels, as well as the rest of the New Testament, and really found throughout the entire Bible.

I have to admit that thinking on the attributes of God has not been a strong suit for me, though I think it's not only valuable, but important. I think Isaiah helps alot in this, along with gifted people who help us see the wonder of God in ways like that.

But I think we have to go to the "face" of Jesus, as found in the revelation of Scripture (not as painted in a picture) to begin to really see God as in knowing God, in the way God is revealing himself, and making himself known.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Isaiah- and really throughout all of Scripture.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I'm not sure the sun is shining yet, though it does quite well, even through these clouds. Sunlight is simply amazing.

You have a great gift of humor and the old caravan is a classic.

You, too!

Anonymous said...

in my turning
to relationship with God
from the Father
through Jesus the Son
in the Holy Spirit

that is how i get to know God, in what God reveals to me of Himself within this relationship

and God uses many ways to communicate with me
and to let me know who He is

through His word
other people
God can use
all things

in my turning
and looking
i am shown

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I like your words on turning and in finding God in all of life, if we just look. Has to be with prayer, in the word and in fellowship with Christians, surely. Just like Eugene Peterson says, in my reading today, we have to reorientate ourselves or be reoriented by God (and we have to work out in our lives what God works in our lives) to really begin to get this and practice it.

Anonymous said...

The gospels do help so much. In a seminar yesterday, the speaker said how we want to know Jesus and become more like him in the positive attributes, but not in His suffering. Jesus handled suffering setting such a great example.The conference was on peacemaking, and how to handle conflict. I long to love more deeply like Jesus, which includes my attitude toward others who are causing me to suffer. It also includes confronting person who I may have offended. I want to know Our Redemeer more intimately and be more conformed to His image.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen to all of that! We must be willing to suffer with Jesus, if we're to really commune with him in this life. Paul certainly puts that together in Philippians 3:10:

"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

Just like you say!