Posts tagged ‘Hidden Presence’

ABC Extra – Christ’s Hidden Presence

It was my first night at college.  I was sitting in my dorm room with my roommate, the only other person on campus who I knew, when I heard a knock at my door.  Outside stood another student, a sophomore, who asked my roommate and I, “Hey, you wanna come outside and play Capture the Flag?”

Capture the Flag.  As best as I can tell, it’s kind of like Hide-n-Go-Seek for grown-ups.  Your team hides a flag while the other team seeks it.  And along the way, the other team not only seeks your flag, they seek you.  And they try to tag you out.  And so, you not only try to hide your flag, you try to hide yourself.

That night, I almost managed to capture the flag.  In fact, I made it all the way to the other team’s flag and was about to snatch it up and win the game for my Capture the Flag comrades when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  “Tag, you’re out,” the voice gleefully exclaimed.  It was the same guy who, just moments earlier, was standing outside my dorm room inviting me to come and join in the fun.  “What?” I asked in exasperation.  “Where did you come from?  I didn’t see anybody anywhere.”  “I was hiding behind that bush the whole time,” he responded.  “And you didn’t even know it.”

“And you didn’t even know it.”  This phrase has often come to my mind as and appropriate way to describe what Jesus’ return will be like.  In our text from this weekend, Paul describes the return of our Lord thusly:

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. The Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)

Notably, when Paul speaks of “the coming of the Lord” in verse 16, the Greek word for “come” is parousia, meaning, “presence.”  In other words, it’s not just that the Lord will arrive from some distant cloud to the earth on the Last Day, it’s that the Lord will reveal that He’s been present with us the whole time.  And, a lot of times, we didn’t even know it.

In Matthew 25, Jesus explains the hidden nature of His presence to His followers thusly:

“I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to visit You?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Jesus was there the whole time as we were feeding the hungry, carrying water for the thirsty, extending hospitality to the lonely, clothing the naked, and visiting the infirmed…and we didn’t even know it.  But the promise is, on the Last Day, we will know it.  Because we will see Jesus.  As Paul explains it: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  With the Last Day, Jesus’ hidden presence will be hidden no longer.

Often, this world looks anything but sacred, holy, and blessed.  It looks sinful, depraved, and broken.  And indeed it is.  But that’s not all it is.  Because Jesus is here with us the whole time – even if we see Him only dimly.  Jesus is here with us the whole time – even if we don’t know it.  And so, as we wait for our Lord’s final revelation, may His presence give us comfort and hope.

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August 23, 2010 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

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