Do you ever wonder what people think when they meet you? When I leave a conversation, does everybody quietly give me a slow clap and gratefully nod their heads? Or do they all sigh with relief and laugh, relieved that the crazy lady has moved on?
What do people see when they see me? They might notice my grouchy exhaustion and my giant orange sweater (again). But what I want others to see is my loving attention, my interested eyes, and my empathy for them.
I’ve often thought of what it looks like to be a Christian. It’s not being nice at the grocery store or letting other drivers cut me off graciously—it’s not those little things. It’s one big thing: we look like Christians because of the presence and glory of God. How can that be? What exactly is the presence and glory of God?
Consider our prayers inviting God’s presence to meet us in worship: God’s presence isn’t simply a warm and euphoric feeling. In the Bible we read that the presence of God came with claps of thunder (Job 37:4, 2 Samuel 22:14) and made people cry out in fear (Jeremiah 5:22; Job 23:13-16). Even the fading marks of God’s presence shining on Moses’ face prompted the Israelites to tremble and plead with Moses to cover up the awesome and terrifying glow of God’s presence (Exodus 34:29-35). In the Bible, it seems that everyone who encounters the presence of God or His angels hits the deck with fear.
But instead of demanding that we cower from His holy presence, God mysteriously invites us to not be afraid. God invites us to come close (Genesis 26:24; Luke 1:20). The glory of God changes us.
So what does the mark of God’s presence with us look like?
A Life led by the Spirit. Moses and Israel actually looked to a pillar of flame to follow God. Without flame in the sky, we still have His never-ending promises.
A Spirit of Humility: God calls us to follow where He leads, even if He leads us into the wilderness. Seek Him. Honor Him. He can be trusted.
Identity in Him: He knows us by name, just as He knew Moses by name. He defines who we are. Our confidence comes from Christ alone.
A Spirit of Security: Just as Moses was hidden in the cleft of the rock, God shields us from a glory that would kill us if we saw it without filter. God shows compassion on us in our weakness, and keeps us safe. We don’t have to live in fear.
A Spirit of Worship: The presence of God invites us to proclaim the name of Yahweh. We direct our adoration to Him. He alone deserves our worship.
Delight in Christ: When Jesus was baptized, the Father called Him beloved Son. He takes delight in Christ. God’s presence invites us to delight in Christ also. The mark of God’s presence is love of Christ.
Without His presence, we have none of these things; we cannot manufacture them. To venture forth in anything without the blessings of God is fearfully futile, because His gracious favor is our only security.
May the God who “became flesh and took up residence among us” shine His light on our faces (John 1:14). May we reflect His goodness and mercy. When people look at us, may they see the glow of God’s glory.