AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
First God creates us to be sensual beings and then He refuses to make Himself visible to us. Naturally we find this frustrating. And yet the fact we can’t see God has many advantages…
1. Distinguishing between human and Divine.
First of all, relating to God is an entirely different concept than relating to humans. We already have a hard time accepting this. Adding a constant visual element to our relationships with Him would only increase our sense of identity with Him, and this really isn’t the good thing that it sounds like. God is very different than us, and we cannot get far with Him by treating Him like just another human. If I show you a couch and tell you to treat it like a dog, how would you do this? The sensory feedback would massively get in your way. So also, if God shows up to you in human form, yet insists that He isn’t human at all, your brain would reject the contradictory logic and you’d keep trying to relate to Him as if He were just another human.
2. Discouraging comparison.
We are very quick to become jealous when some other Christian reports hearing from God more often than we do. Imagine how much this would intensify if we could see God walking around with them as well. “Why is He putting His arm around them but He doesn’t with me? Why is He smiling with them but looking so solemn with me?” Seeing God would only intensify our insecurities and give us a whole new list of worries. We naturally assume that God would go around treating all of us the same, but He wouldn’t. God treats us very differently during different stages of growth. We already struggle over this now. Add a visual element and Satan would have a field day.
3. Increasing trust.
Your trust in God needs to be based on His good Character, not on His physical appearance. If you could see God, you’d hyper-focus on His facial expressions and start to panic every time He got a grim look. It’s hard enough for us to learn to trust God in the face of His nonsensical behavior. But if we added a visual element to this, the battle would only intensify.
4. Protecting intimacy.
Your relationship with God is highly personal. No other human can hear what you say in your prayers. By not appearing in a visible form, God is intentionally blocking other people from being able to monitor your personal relationship with Him. It’s none of their business, and they would only be intrusive. Because God is invisible to others, you also can’t walk around showing off your intimate relationship with Him to others by holding hands with Him in public. Considering all the showing off that is already happening in churches today, imagine how much more we’d try to use a visible God to try and put on false pretenses about our relationship with Him just to make others around us feel jealous.
5. We couldn’t handle the embarrassment.
When’s the last time you got all huffy because someone called you out on a sin? We don’t handle public conviction very well. If God were visible, He wouldn’t be standing around politely smiling while we disobeyed Him. He’d be calling us out on our sins nice and loud. An honest read through the Gospels reveals that Jesus was quite the prickly pear on earth. He was constantly making derogatory cracks at His disciples, saying things like, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?” (Mk. 4:13) They were always on pins around Him, wondering when He’d suddenly get agitated and start lipping off to the Jewish authorities. Let’s not gloss over the fact that Jesus got so mouthy with people that whole mobs would become enraged and try to kill Him. Don’t think that if God were visible He would just quietly follow you around. He’d be obnoxious. He’d make scenes. He’d embarrass you in front of your friends. You’d spend a lot of time looking flushed in the face. A visible God would be extremely tough on the human ego. We couldn’t take it.