Friday, July 20, 2018

Experience God, Rather Than Just Talk About God

Grand Haven State Park

In my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church I make the claim that the point of the Bible is to usher us into a corporate and personal relationship with God that we know by experience, not theory. Doctrine is important, but when we claim that people need the Lord, we mean transcendently, in experience.

Sometimes I experience God mediately; viz., through creation, other persons, in reading a book, listening to music, and so on. I also experience God in an unmediated way. Here Ruth Haley Barton helps us. She writes:

"The longing for solitude is the longing for God. It is the longing to experience union with God unmediated by the ways we typically try to relate to God. By “unmediated” I mean a direct experience of God with nothing in between: an encounter with God that is not mediated by words, by theological constructs, by religious activity, by my own or other’s manipulations of my relationship with God. It is the practice that spiritual seekers down through the ages have used to experience intimacy with God rather than just talking about it." (Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, p. 32)

When, in the Church, there is too much talk, there is not enough power. In the absence of power religious people talk. This is to miss the kingdom of God. As Jesus said, the kingdom is not a matter of talk, but of power. Not talking about power, but demonstrations of power, felt and known by experience.