Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that means to live ones life in the presence of God, literally ‘before the face of God’. This means that there is never a moment when life is hidden from God. If God is who he says he is according to scripture and the Christian tradition, then he is always present, in all places, at all times. Boy, this sure makes life a little more interesting if one believes this, indeed, if one lives their life in such a way that this is true.
When I pastored Kineo Church, I would send us all off with a liturgical blessing every Sunday at the end of each service with this ‘priestly blessing’ that God told Moses to tell the priests to bless the people of Israel with:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, NIV)
Those two phrases: “the Lord shine his face upon you… the Lord turn his face toward you…” have always pierced my heart. Think about it. The Lord of all creation, allows his glory (power, beauty) to shine on us, and then in acceptance of us, he turns towards us in love, not away from us in disgust. This is a hard truth for many people to believe.
It’s hard for me to believe many times, because if ‘coram deo’ is true, then God has been with me and has witnessed me do many terrible things, as well as seen many terrible things done to me, even behind my back, and it seems God is passive in these moments. Oh man, I wrestle with this, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have a ‘pat’ answer on why, and this post wasn’t meant to seek any answers to that right now.
The point I’m getting after is this. If ‘coram deo’ is true, and one lived their life to the rhythm of this truth, then this would create a very consistent life, a non-hypocritical life, an honest life. If one lived as if they believed this, then there would be no denials of their corruption or masking of their behavior; one would simply admit what is true because they would know that God is with them and knows what really is true.
I struggle living like this. I struggle being okay with the reality that God is always with me, and I am before His face, and life can still suck. I struggle with experiencing his presence in a way that is tangible, but I also have freedom to real and honest and not try to pretend to you or anyone else who I am, or who I’m not. There’s freedom in that. This is why Paul says that there is freedom where ever the spirit of God is, which means freedom is present for you… right now, if you’re willing to believe that God is before you right now… He is not disgusted with you, and he isn’t hiding his face from you. This is how we get to the place where we have “nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to manage.”
God doesn’t play hide and seek. We do. God is like the kid in the closet yelling, “I’m not in the closet!” with a big grin on his face, because he wants you to find him. God, in Christ Jesus, took what you deserved so you could get what he deserves. Do you believe that? Does your life live like that’s true? Do your thoughts think in such a way that proves that’s true? I’m on a journey to believe this daily, and today, it’s a struggle. Good thing my beliefs and struggles aren’t what’s true all the time.