Coming off the Revelation: Revisited series, I was intrigued when I read 1John 4:12. John writes, “Nobody has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is completed in us.”
Does that phrase sound familiar? John used a similar phrase in John 1:18, “Nobody has ever seen God. The only-begotten God, who is intimately close to the father — he has brought him to light.”
John 1:18 and 1John 4:12 are parallel ideas — nobody has seen God. In John 1:18, nobody knows God until they gaze upon the sacrificial love of Jesus. In 1John 4:12, nobody knows God until they gaze upon the sacrificial love in Jesus’ people.
As Jesus’ people embody Jesus’ sacrificial love, they make the invisible God visible just like Jesus did.
I was reminded of Genesis 28 while listening to a lecture the other day. During his journey, Jacob lays down for an uneventful night in an indeterminate location. But his dreams reveal the merging of heaven and earth and God announces his promises and plans for him. He awakes, his perspective completely altered and proclaims, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” And he called the place, “Bethel,” which means “house of God.”
When I heard that verse, I thought, “That’s exactly what I want my life to be!” I want every facet of my life to be for others what Jacob experienced in that mundane strip of desert, the house of God, the place where heaven and earth meet.
I want my wife and kids to experience this in my daily love for them. I want my friends to experience this in our friendships. I want strangers to experience this in chance encounters with me. I want people who stumble upon this blog to experience this in my writing. I want people who view my photography to experience this in my images.
I want my ordinary life to reveal God to people as though they were waking from a dream and realizing there’s something more at work. And this happens as I learn to embody Jesus’ sacrificial love.
This is John’s message in Revelation. Revelation 5 portrays Jesus as the victorious Lion who carries out God’s plan through the Lamb’s sacrificial love. Each of the seven churches is called to victory by embodying the Jesus’ sacrificial love. Victory through sacrificial love, a love that always suffers. In other words, Jesus won the victory through suffering sacrificial love. Jesus’ followers carry on the victory through the same suffering sacrificial love. The victory won on Jesus’ cross continues through our cross.
Sacrificial love forms the core of our eternal vocation as God’s royal priesthood. It implements God’s plan to restore creation, vanquish evil and establish his reign on earth. It’s the thread that stitches heaven and earth together. Sacrificial love turns our lives into the house of God, revealing God to others in the most mundane unordinary moments of life.
Nobody has ever seen God, until they see Jesus… and hopefully us.