Devotion #151

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God, if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:11-12 ESV

No one has ever seen God, so it becomes rather difficult to convince a skeptic that He is real. Even in biblical times, God manifested as something else, He never truly presented Himself. He came to earth in human form as Jesus, but we still never saw God as Himself. This verse reminds us that in truth—no one has ever laid eyes on God. So, if God is invisible, how can we prove His existence? It’s a question that halts many conversations between believers and unbelievers. It’s a hard query to answer. If you’re a believer, you just know He is present, you just know He is real, but you’re not sure how you know. And many of us find it hard to put into words, so when we’re challenged, our response is weak. But God gives us the answer right here.

Buried in this passage about love in 1 John is how God is seen—by loving one another. If we want to make the invisible visible, we love. If we want others to know the existence of God, we love. But not the superficial kind of love that easy or convenient, the existence of God shows up when love is hard. When the love we’re demonstrating is self-serving or self-promoting, God isn’t present. God is visible when we sacrifice something to demonstrate love; when the gain is only for the other person, never for ourselves. God is present as we speak when we want to remain silent, or as we remain silent when we want to speak. God is present as we move when we really want to wait, or as we wait when we really want to move. God is present as we stop when we really want to continue, or as we continue when we really want to stop.

When the skeptic you’re trying to convince is your spouse, this truth is especially challenging, but it’s still the answer. This is how God becomes real to them—you show them love. Show them the deep kind of sacrificial love that continues to put their needs first, and God will show up.

But here’s the problem when we’re trying to convince an unbeliever of God’s presence with love. We’ve all been guilty of using our love to gain leverage—whether to benefit in the moment or to be brought back up later in guilt as a measure of equity, we’ve all used our love to our advantage. We’ve all weaponized our love as conditional, withholding our love when someone has hurt or angered us. We make our love difficult to access and treat it as something to be earned. We all know the hurt caused by this conditional, self-serving kind of love, so we don’t trust love. We guard our hearts from the kind of sacrificial love where God can be seen. We refuse to fully receive this kind of love in the most tender parts of our hearts because we keep those places behind the locked gates of hurt. Sometimes those locks are placed there by previous lovers, sometimes a tragedy closed the lock, sometimes the locks are generations old, but they keep God’s love from entering the place where He can be seen.

So, what do we do when the wounds are so deep they run across generations? What do we do when our spouses bring into the marriage the baggage from being loved in a broken world? We continue to love—authentically, unconditionally, sacrificially. We continue to love where it’s hardest to love, even when the love is rejected. We continue to love when we want to scream, when we want to hide, when we want to run, when we want to quit. Trust that God is showing up in these moments, that He is busting through those locks, and that He is making the invisible visible. Eventually, every skeptic will have eyes that see.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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