I have lived in a variety of places and known people from so many different walks of life it is almost unbelievable. We have so many different backgrounds, life experiences, hopes, desires, and beliefs in this country. For those who have some type of religious beliefs, whether they are committed or almost agnostic, at some point I have heard them say the same sentiment in this passage of Isaiah:
If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!
Mountains would quake before you
like fire igniting brushwood or making water boil.
If you would make your name known to your enemies,
the nations would tremble in your presence.
If only God would do something so spectacular so as to reveal himself to the world, then the world would be a better place because we would all believe in him.
The problem with this line of thinking is that God did just this, and it didn’t work.
God did reveal himself in the person of Jesus Christ. In fact, when he was baptized in the Jordan River, the heavens were torn open as the dove descended. This very prayer of Isaiah’s came true at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. This was in the presence of Jewish people, people who would be familiar with the Jewish scriptures, of which Isaiah was one, and would have understood what had just happened. Yet for all the power of God on display in this scene, Jesus still gets rejected and handed over to the Romans to be crucified.
It is easy to think that if God would just do something spectacular then all the problems of the world will disappear. Yet the reality is that God has done spectacular things over and over again in history and we still have sin and evil in the world.
There is another issue, as well, that makes this line of reasoning even more problematic for Christians. You see, Christians–believers and followers of Jesus Christ–are a part of Christ’s body here on earth. We have the Holy Spirit residing within us individually and collectively as the Church. We have the very power of God with us all the time. So the crux of the debate of why God doesn’t do something spectacular falls back on us. We are, in essence, the presence of God in the world. We are the instruments through which God has decided to act in the world. This is why we are called the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the place where people can encounter the Living God in this world.
This is the high calling of being a Christian. Through the presence of God in our lives, and by his grace and power, we are living examples of heaven being torn apart and God descending into this world. Our lives are to be the proof of God’s presence and power in the world. We are the answer to this prayer of Isaiah’s. Is this a reality in your life?