At our Encounter Team meeting last night, Ps Ted shared a message with us about seeking God’s presence and that the whole focus of what we do on and off the stage (and in the other days of the week) is to bring His presence wherever we go. For His presence heals (all the times Jesus healed in the gospels), restores (Jer 29:12-14), protects (Ex 13:21), brings life (Amos 5:4) and gives us identity (Col 3:1-4).
Was having a conversation with a friend, who brought up the truth that we carry God’s presence wherever we go, being the temple of the Holy Spirit, and that our life is lived constantly in His presence whether we are at work or in church. While none of this is disputed, it did bring to mind how we use the term ‘seek His presence’ and why we say this.
Why the call to seek His presence?
- From a Christian perspective:
On a personal level, it is of course true that I am not constantly aware of His presence, and that I lose sight of Him occasionally in life. However does that mean that I am any less effective as salt and light? I believe that God is able to work His will through us despite ourselves. However, I also believe that when the focus is on Him fully, that there is a greater openness and readiness to both give and receive from Him. And this is evident, in that when I am focussed on myself and my problems, I am less inclined to hear from God and my actions and words reflect what is going on inside me, which at times is pretty ungodly!
This also applies to a corporate sense I believe, in that when we worship / do life together as a congregation/lifegroup, we can do so without acknowledging and indeed, elevating God via song/word/prayer (but yet still carrying His presence with us in our role as temples). If this is the case, 2 things occur: firstly, we are just another club or gathering. And secondly, we miss the opportunity to grasp the significance of God’s presence when we are gathered together. Heb 11:24-25 is an exhortation for us to gather, but Matt 18:20 acknowledges the presence of God in a gathering. Col 3:16 encourages us to pray, teach and even admonish each other as we sing His praises.
2. What about those outside the faith?
The Bible talks of people being blind, a veil over their eyes and that we live in a fallen world where we walk as representations and conduits by which God’s eternal kingdom is displayed to those around us. Mark 6:4-5 describes Jesus not being received with honour in his hometown, where He was not able to do many miracles. Clearly, a lack of faith is key here (Heb 11:6), although there are many instances where Jesus displayed His power despite everyone not believing (feeding the thousands, healing the sick). But this does not mean those outside the faith cannot experience the person of Jesus; in fact that’s what we are called to be!
At the end, I believe that while we carry the presence of God wherever we go, there is also a conscious decision we make to acknowledge it, and to tune our ears to hear Him. James 4:8 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James wrote this in the midst of such verses as “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (4:7) and “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (4:1). It is too easy to get distracted in this life. And while we should be constantly aware of His presence in us, we should also consciously turn our ears and eyes and focus our attention to Him at every opportunity, partly because that’s the polite thing to do in a relationship of any kind (!) and mostly because God always answers when we speak to Him; something we do when we acknowledge His presence.