"I like things I can touch and hold. I can never do digital art for long, it gives me a sense of limitedness that I don't get on paper. And even if you do finish something in Photoshop or whatever, it's still in Photoshop, it will never be a physical, real thing that you undeniably made with your own hands. It's a reason that I miss old video game packaging. You'd get a box with a paperback manual and a chunky little cartridge. These days you get a flimsy plastic case with a disc and that's it. There's a console called The Stadia that comes out soon, all the games are downloaded from and stored on the Cloud data service. You can't hold one of those and say, 'This cartridge is Super Mario World, and it always will be'. I don't like the Cloud, I want something in my hands that's mine" - Jonathan aged 14
I totally get him. I get the observation, the desire to feel something tangible, something real in his hands. I don't always get some others things he talks about especially when tutoring me in console use for the Legend of Zelda game, too many buttons! But I get this. Games being up in the Cloud make them nebulous and vague, off out there somewhere, he wants his games to have body and substance, weight, texture, to have some character to them.
This got me thinking about God and loneliness. Stay with me. You'll want to use this in your next family devotional and impress your kids!
God is invisible, "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God," 1 Tim 1:17. Doesn't that sound kind of nebulous, vague and off, up in the clouds? How can this God be close to us? But we're later told that God has made Himself visible. God has come down from the heights and shown Himself to us in a person, 'Christ is the visible image of the invisible God,' Col 1:15. This is so encouraging, We've come one step closer, God revealing Himself in a living, breathing, touchable human body!
Jesus came and lived among us, felt what we feel (Heb 4:15), drank, ate food and cooked (Matt 11:19; John 21:9), wept (John 11:35), sang (Matt 26:30), slept (Mark 4:38). Once, when one of the disciples was doubtful Jesus invited him to come get a proper hands-on look, "Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." John 20:27. I understand Thomas here, he wanted something solid to put his faith in and Jesus didn't give Him a telling off but instead invited him to come closer. That's all well and good we might say, but Jesus isn't here any more so how am I supposed to grasp a hold of God, to touch Him, sense Him, feel His love?
"No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us," 1 John 4:12, and Jesus said, "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognise that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other," John 13:35.
'No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us'.
As I sit here with my teen son, listening (growing in really listening) as he tells me about his Zelda game, the world building he's doing for his own story, about his love of vintage and retro game consoles (all Chinese to me!) I am aware more than ever that I'm showing him God's love. When we come close to others in love we're making the invisible God visible.
We live in such a time that breeds loneliness, we feel far from each other and certainly far from God, connection can be very nebulous and vague. We are more digitally connected than any other generation yet the desire for personal touch cries louder than ever, deep is 'crying out' out to deep. We have the technological ability to be more globally seen yet are swallowed up in oceans of algorithms. We are not to be reduced to numbers when God says every hair on our head is numbered (Matt 10:30), we are seen, it's personal.
My children get lonely, I get lonely. The UK government even appointed a Minister for Loneliness because 9 million of us feel lonely! You can bet your friends and neighbours get lonely.
So in this impersonal world how do we make it personal, how do we make the invisible love of God visible? How do we bring Him down out of the clouds for others to touch, talk with, eat, laugh, cry, sing with?
Here are 5 simple ways you can show love:
You'll be amazed at how your heart is moved from points 1 & 2 into actionable love. As you take and make time for others, really listening to their lives you'll get all sorts of ideas of how to take the next steps. From book clubs, to helping with babysitting, to sending a note or having a coffee out, as you listen like a river and not like a reservoir your relationships will begin to flourish. Imagine as others look in on your love and wonder in awe at what they're seeing - God made flesh!
Won't you join me in looking up, drawing from within and reaching out?
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