"When I entered your church's sanctuary I felt the presence of God."
Over my twenty-five years at Redeemer I have heard these words many times, in many variations, spoken by people new to our Jesus-community.
"I sensed God's peace as I approached your building."
"I encountered God's power as I worshiped with your people."
"Surely the Lord is in this place."
I experience this, too. This is how it should be. Jesus-followers encounter, regularly, the earth-shattering presence of God.
This is not about a physical building, but about a people who host the presence of God. Remember how Jesus changed the whole Temple thing from a physical structure to a people, individually (1 Cor. 3:16) and corporately (1 Cor. 6:19). (In the first verse the word 'you' is singular; in the second verse the word 'you' is plural.) God has come to dwell among His people, to inhabit His lovers, in their singular hearts, and in their plural midst.
This is a visceral, experiential reality, and not just a theory or a propositional truth. One feels God, within and without.
As God lavishly pours out His love into our hearts, this is, precisely and Hebraically, best understood as a feeling. (Note: part of my evangelical heritage is to pause at this point and warn me about the dangers of "feelings." I respond to this by noting the dangers and vacuity of theory and intellect without feelings. I want to know God-feelings as experience, since experience, not theory, breeds conviction. All talk about God's "love" is meaning-deficient if it does not include feeling.)
Consider these words from Robert Barclay, written in 1701.
"When I came into the silent assemblies of God's people, I felt a secret power among them, which touched my heart. And as I gave way to it, I found the evil in me weakening, and the good lifted up. Thus it was that I was knit into them and united with them. And I hungered more and more for the increase of this power and life until I could feel myself perfectly redeemed." (Barclay - see here, p. 357; cited in Richard J. Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, Kindle Locations 302-304)
Welcome God's presence into your life today.
Host the earth-shattering presence of God.
Get ready to "know," in the sense of to "feel."