One great need among followers of Jesus is the experience of God’s tangible presence. What good is it to have a theology that asserts God’s presence is everywhere if we have no evidence of it? Has God gone on vacation? Has he left the building?
From beginning to end the Biblical narrative is filled with God’s tangible presence. The first two chapters of Genesis are marked by his personal presence: God personally forms man from the dust of the ground, he kisses the breath of life into the first man, he instructs and guides his children as he walks in the garden with them. At the end of the Bible, the book of Revelation depicts the intimate nature of God’s personal interaction with creation. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21: 3)
From start to finish the scripture reveals the God who is present. He visits Abraham. He wrestles with Jacob. He talks with Moses face to face. He reveals his presence in the cloud and fire around the people of Israel. As Solomon dedicates the temple, God manifests in a cloud so thick with his presence that no one can remain standing or perform the duties of worship. Ezekiel saw God’s traveling throne and Isaiah saw the temple filled with God’s presence and glory.
In the New Testament the presence of God becomes something even greater: the Incarnation. “God arrived and pitched his tent among us.” (John 1:14) This marks even greater intimacy and presence: God not only interacted with the world he created, he became part of that world. And he came to stay: the final words of Matthew’s gospel are: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20) Like I said: from start to finish, God is present. Really present, actually present, tangibly present.
It’s Monday: may I suggest a meditation?
- Can I expect the same experience of God’s presence as people did in the Bible?
- Have I settled for something other than his presence?
- If I believe he is present, can I ask him to reveal his presence?
- Do I dare?