Christians agree that Christianity is not about religion as much as it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and that that is central to the life of every Christian. When you have a relationship with someone you spend time with them and dialogue with them. So, of course, Christians are to pray, which is just a fancy word for talking with God. But here’s my question. When you talk with God, do you perceive Him as far away in Heaven or very near, like a friend sitting across from the table?
In scripture, there are a countless people who had regular personal encounters with God. Of course Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden. Moses regularly held conversations with God, saw Him manifest in physical form and even was privileged to see God in person (from the back at least).
That’s great, but what about us? Is God really here with me as I type this? The Bible teaches us that God is omnipresent – everywhere at all times. It also teaches that God is very interested in us and follows our every move. You would think, then, that God is always everywhere we are and His attention is on us. Do we really believe it, though? If God is here, why don’t we have a knock-your-socks off experience? Why do our faces not glow like Moses’s did? Why do we not fall to our faces in awe and reverence?
I feel fortunate to have a faith that allows me to know God’s presence with me. When I speak to Him, I believe He’s close and that I have His full attention – even to the point where I sometimes pause and see what He might reply. This has been a result of seeking God and walking with Him for the past 15 (or so) years. If you were to ask say to me “But how do you know He’s really there?” I could only say, “I don’t know. I just know.”
I believe that if you were to honestly ask God to reveal Himself to you and you were fervently looking for Him (and you didn’t assume you knew when, where, and how He might show up) you would find Him. I believe if you want to find Him, He would show up and make it clear that it’s Him.
The more you begin to recognize how God shows up in your life, the more you will see Him and your relationship will grow from there. And you move from praying to some distant, gee-I-sure-hope-you’re-up-there-somewhere-listening God to a face-to-face God who is interested in carrying on an ongoing conversation with you. And you enter into this dynamic where more and more you remember to realize that God is actually with you.
What I have found is when we start to engage God in a truly personal relationship, He begins to ask us to do things. After all, we Christians are to continue the work of Jesus on this earth. So watch out because enjoying a deep level of intimacy with God requires obedience. Obedience is a demonstration of our love for God. It is also a demonstration that we have a living faith. It demonstrates that we really believe Jesus’ death and resurrection atoned for our sins, freed us from sin, saved us from God’s wrath, and that we owe Him our life for it.
With God, we do not need to invite Him to be with us – as we often say in our prayers (be with us as we…). We only need to come to an awareness that His presence has been with us all along.
How do you perceive God? Do you really believe He’s near or do you believe He’s a geographically distant God? How has God shown up in your life?