“If God would just show himself, then I’ll believe.”
“If I can see God face to face, I’ll know he exists and I’ll believe.”
Most people want God to show himself, but here’s a thought for consideration:
The Bible says that when we finally do meet God face to face, that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11). There will be no argument, no discussion – every single human being will unequivocally realize just who God is.
How does this come about? Many people have this idea of God forcing people to their knees. Maybe his angel soldiers marching behind the line of humanity, kicking them behind the knees and pushing down on heads until every person is prostrate before the Lord.
But that’s not how God works. Even in Judgment Day, he still puts free will above all else. We have a choice in how we see God, how we relate to him. Even in death, we are not forced to love or worship him. So why does the whole of humanity fall to its knees, if not by force?
By sheer presence alone.
Have you ever been in a place that fills you with awe, that makes you weak in the knees and bereft of words? Your chest is tight, your eyes wide, your mouth speechless as you take in the sight. Maybe it’s a grand cathedral or an ancient monument, or a breathtaking display of nature’s power and beauty. A storm, a mountaintop view, the Grand Canyon. Whatever it is, it’s something that forces you to stop and take it in.
Now imagine that experience, but amplified ten thousand times. Meeting God face to face is no piece of cake. This is a God who formed entire worlds with a single phrase, who spans the Universe with his hands. Every inch of our world, he created, from the smallest quarks and atoms to the vast nebula and galaxies picked up by the Hubble telescope. And as you take in the whole of Creation, note the diversity, the attention to detail. Very little is grayscale. Color abounds at every turn, and not just mild, bland colors we recreate with our artists’ utensils, but bold, vibrant, popping colors that take your breath away.
At the center of all of that is God himself, who we will meet that day in his very own throne room. And if he can create all of this, imagine how he is in person, as we stand face to face with all his power, all his authority, all his creativity… what would our reaction be? Naturally, it would be to fall to our knees, not through some measure of force, but as an inevitable reaction at being faced with something with so much greatness and majesty.
We’ll have free will, but we will be so overridden by what we see that we won’t even consider fighting it. We’ll be on our knees before we know it, giving obeisance to a God who is so holy and awe-inspiring.
Why doesn’t God show up? People say they would believe if they could just see God face to face. It’s true, they’ll believe – but not in the way God wants. God has always wanted an honest relationship, one fully determined by how much we want to be with him. He could force us, but he’d rather let us be the determining factor in what goes on and how far we go.
The moment he steps foot in the picture and we see him physically, all of that goes away. Our power to choose a relationship with him becomes tainted with our inevitable urge to drop to our knees before him. In not showing up, God allows us the greatest freedom he possibly could – a chance at an unbiased choice, one that is fully our own to control, to decide whether we want to come to him.
By the time Judgment Day comes and we all gather in that throne room, the dice will have been cast, fates decided. Our choices will be made. There is no longer any need to hold back – one way or the other, we’ve already made our choice. And so God steps out, reveals himself to the people of his Creation, allowing them to see him for who he truly is –
The God of the Universe.