Critics say Christians have great imaginations because all other religions claim to have encounters with their gods. However, theists agree that their religious experiences directly reveal to them a “personal Being who is holy, good, awesome, separate from the subject, and One upon whom the subject depends in some way for life and care.” In other words, the Christian view of God is unique.
However, Christians who claim to ‘see God’ generally do not mean a visual or audible encounter, yet agree this is more than intellectual acknowledgment. Our descriptions are emotional, even mystical, and our experience confirms God’s existence to us. We know that He loves us and desires us to trust Him. This is a subjective rather than an objective revelation of truth. However, we also realize subjectivity is not our only claim to experiencing God. Even Christian religious experiences must be examined alongside verifiable facts.
The Christian faith rests on a solid factually foundation. History and all the canons of historical investigation verify it. At the same time, faith is more than believing facts. Faith and religious experiences also reflect an encounter with God. Objectivity and subjectivity are both vital ingredients of Christianity.
More than any other religion, Christianity confirms its truth-claims through profound, life-changing religious experiences. Jesus’ disciples set the example for countless millions of Christians to follow. The conversion of Saul is another noted example. (For more, read Christianity on the Offense by Dan Story, a Kregel Publication)
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17)
When Paul saw Jesus, he was blinded. Later, he regained his physical sight, but that personal encounter with Jesus Christ changed his life. Before that, he zealously focused on putting Christians to death, but after seeing Jesus, he spent the rest of his life “determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Nothing held his attraction except seeing Jesus and serving Him with his whole heart.
A spiritual and godly person is a person after God’s own heart. Those who have seen Jesus never lose the fascination for what they have seen. We struggle at times with other visions and ideas that attempt to turn us away from Him, yet He promises that those who have a pure heart will see Him, and in seeing Him we see the Father also. That vision is life-changing.
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:19–21)
I long for the day when I will see Him with my eyes, yet as He promised, He reveals himself to all who believe in and love Him. That means even if I had no eyes, He can still manifest Himself to me.