We know a lot about God, and do a lot in His name, but knowing about God and doing things in His name whether conformist or nonconformist (we all have our formats) is not the same as knowing His Presence – Presence is about encounter, meeting God and engaging dynamically with Him.
Too frequently we assume His Presence and carry on regardless, and sometimes we merge or confuse the omnipresence of God with the manifest Presence of God as an excuse for the lack of Presence – there is a difference. Because God is Spirit, He is everywhere present, but not manifestly or knowingly so, whereas the manifest Presence is one of reality, when we know and experience God in the house.
Time and again in scripture we find people seeking and encountering the reality of God’s manifest Presence. The Psalmist declared,”One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4.
Time and again throughout church history individuals and groups have encountered the manifest Presence of God.
In reading both, scripture and history, one can’t help but notice how encountering God’s manifest Presence changes people and situations. They can do church, sing the songs of Zion, hear a thousand sermons, and remain unmoved, but an encounter with God changes everything.
One thing we can be sure of is that God has never intended to be an unknown and distant God, rather, from the beginning He made us in His image so that we could relate to Him, and in the beginning God would come down in the cool of the day and meet with those He had made.
Even after mankind had sinned and messed up the relationship and as a result decided to hide, God still planned on a relationship with mankind and went about dealing with the problem and restoring the relationship. Time and again as the story unfolds there are encounters with God. And then God comes in human flesh! Man face to face with God!
Today the problem has been resolved, our sin has been dealt with, forgiveness, cleansing and reconciliation have taken place – I am His, and He is mine, and His banner over me is love! Jesus plus nothing is everything.
But that encounter is not the end, simply the beginning, one that leads to the possibility of many encounters. In the words of the Song of Solomon, “Draw me after you and let us run together.” We know His Presence, yet He continually invites us into His Presence. We have found His Presence and yet we still seek more of His Presence.
Is your knowledge and experience of God static or is it growing?
When you meet with His people as the gathered church (and I trust you do), do you just religiously go through the form (conformist or nonconformist), sing the songs, pray the prayers, listen to the word, or are you looking to encounter God among His people?
When you go about your every day life are you looking for God encounters, or just going about life as if He is a far away God who doesn’t care about your daily life and has left you to get on with it?