Experiencing the presence of God1
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
- Revelation 21:3
From near the beginning of human history people have had a hard time experiencing the presence of God.
Adam and Eve hid themselves. The residents of Babel tried to take God’s place. Abraham kept forgetting God that was present and engaged. The Israelites begged Moses to meet with God in their place because they were afraid.
When God’s people wandered in the desert, they maintained a “tabernacle,” a holy tent where a few select people form the community could meet with God. But even as his presence in their midst brought blessing, the people were on edge. Few approached God directly.
This pattern continued when the people settled into the land they’d been promised and built a temple for the Lord. A giant curtain stood between them and God. All who passed behind it risked death.
On the day that Jesus died, that curtain was ripped in two from the top to the bottom. The divide between God and humanity fell. But God’s presence remained elusive. The temple was destroyed. The invisible God was worshipped, but many doubted.
But there’s a day coming when all will see God’s dwelling place in the center of his community. We will see God with our own eyes. He will be our light and our life and our joy. We’ll run to him without fear and worship him without doubt.
But until that day, we’ll continue to seek God out. Jesus has removed every reason for us to be terrified of God. So we can go searching for him without fear. And we can find him and discover that he’s been with us – loving and pursuing us – the entire time.
Where do you experience God’s presence? How does it make you feel? How does Jesus influence the way you think about God’s presence?