Radiance

If you’ve ever eaten pizza from an “authentic” Italian restaurant, you may remember that the pizza had little black marks on the crust where it had been burned.  Apparently, this is a litmus test that proves if the pizza is real Italian-style or not.  Last week, while in Lexington, we ate at Smashing Tomato, a restaurant that prides itself on being a “modern interpretation of the authentic Italian pizzeria with flavors you can really taste.”

Smashing Tomato claims to be the real deal because of these little black marks that can be found on the crust of the pizza after it has been cooked.  These marks prove that the pizza was cooked in a brick oven rather than one of those metal demons that Domino’s uses.  According to Italian tradition, when a pizza has these little specks, it is said to have been “kissed by the flame.” Then, and only then, you know you’re getting real Italian-style pizza.

In Exodus 34, after God gives Moses the ten commandments, Moses returns to camp, but everyone notices something different about his face.  The Bible says that Moses’s face is “radiant,” and the Israelites are too scared to get close to him. In other words, his face is glowing because he was in the presence of God.  As a compromise, Moses puts a veil over his face when he is in camp, but he removes the veil when he goes back to talk to God. This radiance is proof of Moses’s relationship with God.

What this passage illustrates is that being in the presence of God changes you. That’s what Church is for, right? We congregate as a group of believers to worship, pray, and learn in the presence of God. We get our church credits on Sundays and bonus credits on Wednesday and expect sufficient change in our lives.

Yes, God is there with us on Sundays and Wednesdays, but I sometimes forget that the presence of God is not dependent on the calendar or location. He’s there anyway, but sometimes I just ignore Him.

We live in the presence of God, but we often fail to take advantage of it. There’s no radiance on our faces. There’s no joy in our speech. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, God’s glory was so powerful that it could only be experienced by a chosen few. The night of the crucifixion, that distance was dissolved. His power did not change; He invited us to experience it.

This is intimidating. We serve the same God who destroyed nations, split seas and rivers in half, stopped the sun, sent plagues, healed the sick, and created the cosmos. We have direct access to Him. We can talk to Him. We can cry out to Him and know that He is listening.

Italian pizza is kissed by the flame, and you know it’s real. Moses’s face started glowing because of his encounters with God.

How are you changed by the presence of God?

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