In our last post, I explained what we mean by experiencing the Presence of God. I mentioned that worship, meditating on the Word, and intimate prayer are ways we can, as individuals, invite God to manifest His Presence to us.
Why should we want God to manifest Himself to us? Aren’t mature believers supposed to walk by faith, not by sight?
The truth is, God has built into humankind a hunger to know Him experientially. He is intimately acquainted with us, but He also longs for us to know Him intimately. That’s the way it started out in Eden — mutual knowing of one another between God and man.
In Exodus 33:12 through 34:9, we have the story of Moses’ quest for God’s manifested Presence. “I beseech You, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God readily granted his petition. He hid Moses in a crevice in the rock and allowed him to see His glory in limited measure as He passed by.
And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and … passed by before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin ….”
And Moses hastily bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. — Exodus 34:5-8
God has made us spiritual beings, who happen to reside in physical bodies. Because we are spiritual in nature, and because we were created to fellowship with God, we quite naturally long for God’s supernatural evidences to show up in our natural world. Encountering God in a manifestation of His supernatural Presence keeps us alive to Him. We need this intermingling with His Presence to sustain us and empower us to do the “greater works” of God, mentioned in John 14:12, which were to be poured out on believers with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Physical healings often take place in us too, as we worship in the Presence of our Healer.
We can encounter God’s Presence when we are alone with Him in prayer and worship, but experiencing Him tangibly should also be a regular occurrence when the Church gathers corporately. In fact, the magnitude of His revealed glory should be multiplied when we join with other believers. We are not meant for a “just me and Jesus” lifestyle. We are all members of the Body of Christ, fitted together as one entity. And when that joining together takes place, God is eager to come down among us.
Yet, many have never experienced the manifest Presence of God in the church setting. Why? We have learned to do without sensing Him in the congregation for so long that we don’t even know we can expect Him to show up.
We fill the void of His Presence with all sorts of substitutes — glitzy worship teams with all the right gestures and singing techniques, flashy lights, beautiful video presentations, music loud enough to blow the doors out. While these things are not necessarily bad in themselves (well, the excessively loud music might be!), they are calculated to appeal to our soul, not our spirit. They stimulate excitement for the mind and body, but they do not connect our spirit to the Lord. So, when the show is over, our inner man has not been satisfied. A gnawing emptiness remains.
Why are so many leaving the local church? They are not hearing the simple gospel of Jesus preached (which is a subject for another day), and they are not being given opportunity to truly meet with God in worship. When little room is made for genuine interaction between man’s spirit and the Spirit of the Lord, disappointment and boredom result. Somehow, the Church has bought into the false notion that we need to artificially entertain people, in order to compete with the world system for their attention and affection.
We can change this. It is not all that hard. It will take a few adjustments, starting with our attitudes and expanding into our actions. That’s where we will pick up next time.