Uniquely honored among all God’s creatures, we humans are made in the Creator’s own image. Sin, which at its core is a denial of creaturely dependence, and therefore of our created identity, obscures God’s presence and removes the source of ultimate human fulfillment and joy. By dealing with sin, Jesus brought us back close into God’s presence now, and he promises to make us immortal in a new universe where there will be no more sin or death.
This, then, is the essence of life, the highest goal, the greatest good, the path to our fulfillment and to God’s joy — that we live each moment coram Deo, “before the face of God.” David, the man after God’s own heart, earnestly pleaded for this blessing when he prayed: “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek; do not hide your face from me” (Psalm 27:8-9). Jesus described it when he promised: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
This life is accessible to God’s ekklesia, the community of believers, the body of Christ. It is fed by the Scriptures, when received in faith and focused on Jesus Christ. It is enriched through the sacraments or ordinances, when by faith we encounter the risen Savior through these physical elements. This life is expressed and strengthened in loving deeds of benevolence and charity. But back of all those things, undergirding it all, giving it all meaning and purpose, making all those things useful and powerful and effective, is the core and the essence. It is life coram Deo — “before the face of God.”