Where do we meet God face to face? And what kind of God are we expecting to meet? These are questions that has revolved in my mind all week as I have contemplated these words from Richard Rohr’s book Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality.
We wil not trust spiritual power until we have experienced a God who operates in the same way, a God who is willing to wait, allow, forgive, trust and love unconditionally. p89
He goes on to say
Before encounter God is perceived as omnipotent power; after encounter God is perceived as humble love. p93
No wonder throughout most of human history people were unable to meet God face to face. Moses did and he was radically changed, but the children of Israel were unable to face God even the reflection of God that was evident in Moses face. For them God would always be a punishing, powerful God who brought them out of Egypt to let them die in the desert.
Jacob wrestled with God and was also changed. His self made strength was torn apart and he was able to greet his brother with love, humility and vulnerability instead of with deceit and fraud. (Genesis 32 & 33)
In the New Testament we do of course meet God face to face in the person of Jesus but again so many rejected this encounter. A king born in a stable, raised as a refugee, despised and rejected by the authorities? A God who ate with sinners, welcomed prostitutes, healed the unclean? How could this possibly be? But for those who did turn and face Jesus gazed into the face of God and were so radically changed that their lives changed history forever.
Meeting God face to face is the most earth shattering and life shattering experience imaginable, not because it reveals to us the power of God but because it overwhelms us with the love and humility of God. And in that encounter we are changed forever too. A true encounter with God leaves on us an imprint of the living God, an image that enables us to reach out to others with the love and compassion that is who God truly is. In meeting God face to face, we too become the face of God to others.