Tuesday, December 08, 2015

"Immanuel" and Me (The Presence-Driven Church)

In Nairobi (This woman's foot was healed)

If God is not with me, experientially, then what good is he? I need God to walk before and with and behind me in this dimly lit world.

I am not smart enough to guide my own life, much less assist others on the way.

I am not powerful enough to halt the eroding wasting-away of my physical body, much less heal others.

I am not loving enough to overwhelm my enemies.

I am a flower that emerges from the ground, blooms, then quickly withers and dies. I am an ocean wave that comes and goes.

I am weak in time and space, body and mind, strength and soul, a virtually unknown speck of matter in an ever-cycling faceless mass of humanity.

I am weak. But Thou are strong.

This is my wisdom:

  • I need help.
  • People are not enough for me. 
  • God is loving, powerful and omniscient.
  • I need God with me.

This is The Promise of Christianity. I cling to it.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
- Matthew 1:23

Christianity is not mere religious, skull-boring ritual. Nor is it mind-numbing entertainment-induced "happiness." In Christ the ancient prophecy has taken on human skin and bone. God has come near, to us.

This is what I need, "Immanuel," God with me. I require, presently, His presence. Christianity is all about His ever-presence, not in theory, but in experience.

This is why I am a Christian. I follow Jesus because I know Jesus. I have been met by him. I talk with him throughout the day. I have tasted His redemptive goodness and my eyes have seen His power and glory. I have a bookshelf of journal entries cataloguing the adventures of Immanuel and me.

James McDonald writes:

"A real encounter with the living God changes everything. First, it magnifies the Lord, and then it puts me and my ego and my sin and my burdens all in their rightful place.

That is what church is supposed to do and be. Not an encounter with the glory of God in creation but an encounter with God in a different, even more awesome way that only church can provide. However, church today as a weekly experience with the manifest glory of God is the greatest lack we face. The lost are not found because God’s glory is not revealed in church. Children wander because church is pathetically predictable or shamefully entertaining but hardly ever authentically God." (MacDonald, Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs for. What Every Church Can Be, Kindle Locations 56-61)

Yes, I study about Jesus. But all this about-Jesus-research is only valuable as it leads to Real Church. "Take me to church" means "Take us into Your presence."

Take us to the water where we shall drink, for we thirst.

Take us to the healing altar, for we are weak.