Church Culture Revolution eBook

A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives


Personal Assessment

How Emotionally Healthy Are You?
Take a free 15 minute personal assessment now!

*We respect your privacy by not sharing or selling your email address.

Personal Assessment


The Hidden, Invisible Presence of Jesus

Posted on December 22nd, 2011

Yesterday, at our NLF staff Christmas party, I led a devotional around Bruegel the Elder’s Census at Bethlehem painting from the 16th century. Using Juliet Benner’s guide in Contemplative Vision: A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer, I shared out of the overflow of how God met me in this portrayal of Luke 2:4-5.

As Mary and Joseph approach the village to register for the census (See her on a donkey on the center right), we see a crowd of people seeking to get into the inn. We also observe many others carrying heavy loads burdened by the harshness of their lives. Each is so engrossed and absorbed in their own affairs and activities that Mary, Joseph and Jesus are invisible to them.

Would I have turned to Mary or Joseph and asked about their story if I were there? Probably not. I suspect I would have been too busy.

God is so close to me, to you, to us. The world is filled with His presence and glory. What could be more important for us this Christmas and New Year season than maturing in our awareness of His hidden, invisible presence all around us — whether that be in difficult people, circumstances, nature, music, giving gifts, beauty, or the very symbols of Christmas themselves (e.g. wreaths, candles, trees).

As Juliet Benner says so well at the end of her commentary on this painting: “If we are blind to God’s presence, how can we know His love?”

May I invite you to join me this Christmas to stop and lay down your heavy loads and distractions for a few minutes?  There is perhaps no greater gift we can give to the people around us than to see the hidden presence of Jesus around us. There is perhaps nothing more difficult!

What kind of distractions are in your life today that hinder you from seeing God’s presence?

Share This Post:
Download + Subscribe
Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives