By Shawn McMullen
The dictionary on my desk defines supernatural as, “of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.” That’s an apt description of the Christian faith—and of God himself.
The writers of the New Testament often used the Greek word aoratos to express this concept, referring to something that is not seen, or that cannot be seen. It is translated “invisible” in many English Bibles. Here are some examples.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). God is not observable to us in a physical form. He is uncreated spirit. Certainly one of the reasons God forbade Israel to make and worship any kind of image (see Exodus 20:4-6) was because God cannot be contained or represented by any physical form.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:17). The apostle Paul chose words like eternal, immortal, and invisible as he called his readers to worship the one true God.
Long before the coming of Christ, Moses put his faith in a God he couldn’t see. “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). We can’t observe the attributes of God, but we find evidence of “his eternal power and divine nature” all around us. We can’t see the wind, but we can watch it work. So it is with the invisible God.
In addition to the physical world, God created an invisible realm with invisible inhabitants. “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
The invisible world is the realm of God and his angels. The devil and his angels inhabit it too. A lot transpires in this invisible realm we know little about.
Thankfully, God also inhabits the world we see. Our omnipresent God is everywhere at once and “the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). In their ill-fated attempts to thwart God’s purposes, Satan and his angels show up with annoying regularity in our world, but their work is ultimately short-lived and destined for failure.
As residents of a visible world affected by an invisible world (some of whose inhabitants are working contrary to our Christian purposes), we may feel overwhelmed at times. But we can’t lose heart. As the apostle Peter reminds us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”
(1 Peter 1:8, 9).