Creed: Understanding the Visible and Invisible
- Eva Marie Everson Contributing Writer
- 2005 19 Jan
Editor's Note: "Creed" is an ongoing article series that discusses the core beliefs of Christianity as expressed in the Apostle's and Nicene creeds. Links to the other installments are listed at the end of this article.
Have you ever met a pair of identical twins and then tried to find some tiny little something that separated the two? Something that made one distinguishable from the other? Not necessarily better or worse, but different?
I have friends who have twin daughters. Personally, I can see absolutely no difference in them. But their mother says to me, "When I look at Rachel, I see Rachel. When I look at Rebekah, I see Rebekah."
"How?" I asked, staring at the two young girls who stood before me grinning.
"See this little freckle on Rachel's face?" she asked. "Rebekah doesn't have one."
I cocked a brow. True. Still, they were identical.
The Nicene's Freckle
Just after "We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth," in the Nicene Creed, is a line not found in the Apostle's Creed.
...and of all things visible and invisible.
Colossians 1:16 reads: For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Did you know that there is so much we don't know? For example (and this is fairly simple), there are other planets out there that with modern technology we are able to see. In the days of Paul, however, it was a different story. Perhaps Paul laid on his back a time or two and stared up at the evening sky, filled with thousands upon thousands of bright stars. Perhaps he watched the spectacular shows of meteors dashing across the sky, playing their own version of "Tag, You're It." And he knew...he just knew...there were things out there beyond what his eyes could see...or even outside the scope of his imagination.
Who made all those things? For Paul (and for me) there was only one answer: God. The Creator.
But stars and planets are not the only things invisible. One of my favorite Bible stories comes from the book of 2 Kings. The king of Aram is at war with Israel. He conferred with his officers about the best place to set up attack against Israel and they came to a decision. But God warned the prophet Elisha about the place, he told the king of Israel, and that left the king of Aram with no one to "play war" with.
This happened time and again. Finally the king of Aram went to his men and asked (in my own words), "Which one of you is the traitor? Every time we set up a place to attack, the king of Israel knows about it already."
Of course the men denied it. None of them had betrayed their king. Finally one speaks up, ""No one, my lord the king. Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in your bedroom."
Well, that must have been distressing.
"Go get him," the king of Aram said, and the men set off to capture Elisha.
Now, when I say "the men" went off to capture Elisha, I don't just mean a couple of wise guys. According to the Bible, this was a "strong force" of men, chariots, and horses. For one guy!
The next morning, Elisha's servant got up and went out and saw this vast army surrounding them. He went back inside and told Elisha, asking him, "What shall we do?" In other words, "I think our goose is cooked."
But Elisha answered, "Don't be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
The servant must have looked at Elisha as if he'd failed Math 101, for there were only two of them. Then, Elisha prayed, "Oh Lord, open his eyes so he may see."
The Lord opened the servant's eyes and he saw...oh, boy did he see! He saw the hillside filled with horses and chariots of fire! The Lord's heavenly warriors, who had been there all along but had been invisible, surrounded them.
I believe that same army of heavenly hosts continues to surround God's children even today. But, how often are we aware of it? How much more often are we aware of our visible dire circumstances rather than the invisible authority of God over His own?
Another Kind of Army
Paul writes in Ephesians about another kind of army, one we need to be equally aware of.
Ephesians 6:10b-12 reads: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
There is an invisible world of darkness and evil that exists and is determined to bring us down. You might say, "Oh, I don't believe in all that scary stuff." And, thanks to Hollywood horror flicks and the kind of stories you used to tell around campfires and at sleepovers, it is scary...unless you know the Captain of our army.
Just because we can't see other galaxies with our naked eye doesn't mean they don't exist, and the same goes with Heavenly hosts and the spiritual forces of evil. We must be aware of one and prepared for the other. How do we do that?
Paul goes on to explain: put on the full armor of God.
Seen and Unseen
Can you see the armor of God? No. Can you sense its presence? Absolutely.
Allow me to give you an example. Years ago, when my son was in high school, I chaperoned a group of teens to the beaches of Florida's panhandle. There were two vehicles packed to the brim with kids; the lead car - a van, actually, driven by our pastor - and my car, which held hardly more than three teens, my youngest, and myself.
That morning, as was my typical routine, I prayed the armor of God on and asked God's heavenly angels to guide my car to its destination, some three hours away.
We headed out. In the front seat next to me was a young girl from the youth group named Stacy. We chatted as I drove, unaware of a looming danger in the distance. As we came around a deep curve in the highway, I was stunned to see the van ahead swerve off the road, bounding down the shoulder. My eyes immediately cut to what had caused this mishap: a truck, pulling a doublewide load too large for the narrow road.
"Hold on!" I screamed, then cut the car to the same path the van had taken.
I was aware of only one thing: my hands clutching the steering wheel at 10 and 2 as the car seemed to make it's on way.
When we finally came to a stop I looked at my passengers. "Are you okay?" They all nodded a yes; though it was obvious they were stunned. I looked out the windshield to see our pastor running toward us. "Are you okay?" he asked when he reached me. I said that we were all no worse for the wear. I then chuckled. "My father would be proud," I said. "I kept my hands at 10 and 2."
Our pastor walked back toward his van as I restarted the car, then noticed Stacy starring at me. "What?" I asked.
"Why did you say your hands stayed at 10 and 2?"
"Because they did," I answered. "If I live to be a hundred, I'll always remember the way they looked on this steering wheel."
"No," she said, shaking her head. "That's impossible. You threw your arms over me."
"Are you sure?" I asked.
In my mind, the question has always remained: whose hands were on the steering wheel and whose kept Stacy pinned to her seat?
I no longer have to question whether or not there is an unseen world; I have seen it with my own eyes.
Next: The Unseen Armor of God (continued)
Award-winning national speaker, Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includesIntimate Moments with God and Intimate Encounters with God (Cook). She is the author of Shadow of Dreams, Summon the Shadows and Shadow of Light. (Barbour Fiction) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.
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