Job ranted and raved about God's injustice, begging to know why God allowed so much suffering to come his way. Job never received an answer why he suffered ... he received the presence of God. That was enough.
Philip, shortly before Jesus' death, wanted to know the way to the Father. "Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied." (John 14:8 NLT) Jesus pointed to himself and reminded Philip that he was the only way to the Father, and that as he he saw Jesus, he saw the glory of God. (John 14:6) Even more importantly, he told Philip, "The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." (John 14:12 NLT)
"God, let me see your glory!"
Isn't that our cry, too? When things we hold dear are in pieces at our feet, don't we cry out to God and ask him to show himself? Don't we want to know that he is with us in the middle of our messes? Don't we beg for the physical presence of Jesus to come into our world and heal our sick loved ones, repair our handicapped friends, return memory to our dementia-stolen parents, and show us how to get out of our own self-inflicted predicaments?
We cry out to God, "LORD, just show me you're there ... show me that you are real, something more than just a lot of talk from a bunch of religious phonies!"
Through a decade of traveling through the "suburbs of hell" as I watched my father die a little more every day, that's what I wanted. "Just show me your glory and I will be satisfied, God!" I demandingly prayed this prayer again and again. Over time, a powerful conviction — God's wave of a strong and merciful grace — swept over me: Phil, you won't SEE the presence of Jesus in your life until you're willing to BE the presence of Jesus for others.
Suddenly the message of the New Testament came alive with new meaning and fresh purpose. Verse after verse* called on me individually, and as part of a church family, to be the presence of Jesus for others. My times in worship assembly with other Christians became a powerful reminder of this purpose for my life. As I shared in the Lord's Supper, the words of the Holy Spirit echoed in my heart: "Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ." (1 Corinthians 10:16 NAS) I remembered that the disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus "in the breaking of the bread." (Luke 24:35 RSV) I was even more deeply convinced that the Lord's Supper beckons us to recognize our role as Jesus' body, his bodily presence in the world, until he comes again. Then, I remembered the first meal the resurrected Jesus had with his apostles on the evening of that first resurrection Sunday. Jesus told his closest followers, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21) As I watched someone baptized into Christ, I remembered the apostle Paul's words to the Corinthians, "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:13 RSV)
I am part of the body of Christ! I am here, we are here, to be Jesus' bodily presence to the world! Suddenly everything was changed for me. My life had fresh purpose and a real mission. I'm on earth and I'm part of Jesus' church to continue his ministry, demonstrate his love, communicate his compassion, and do his work in the world. What could be more important? What is comparable to such a glorious task? What can give life more purpose? Nothing! Nothing is more important. Nothing is more glorious. Nothing deserves my attention more.
We are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. ... [Christ] is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4-14 NLT)
Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. (2 Corinthians 3:16-17 NLT)
It is he [Christ] whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me. (Colossians 1:28-29 NRS)
But oh, my dear children! I feel as if I am going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives. (Galatians 4:19 NLT)
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