If you have spent any amount of time in the church you know something about God. You have heard and sang songs, sermons have come to you from the Holy Bible, you partake in the bread and cup of Communion, and you have heard innumerable prayers. While all of these have a valuable place in our spiritual lives, you may enjoy them regularly and never experience the most important part of Christianity.
As the worship portion of our service ended on Sunday, in that transition time before the message that I have to make on those days when I lead worship before speaking, I felt the need to ask whether or not we have really met God.
A real encounter with God is everything. It is more than just reading or memorizing the Bible. It is more than just repeating prayers. It is more than what most Christians experience from day to day.
This encounter will change you. It will open your eyes to realities that will affect the way you live from that moment forward. You are the created, flesh and blood. You are sinful, unable to please God, dirty and broken. Yet the God you are unworthy to look upon loves you so much that He died for you, reaches His hands out to you and desires to make you His child. He wants to forgive all that separates you if you will only admit it is there and trust in His free gift of salvation.
It will make you hungry for more of Him. You will worship in a way that you never have before. The songs will mean more. Your heart will yearn for His presence, and when it goes unsatisfied it will cry all the harder for His touch. Even though God’s presence reveals to them their sinfulness, their rightful place of humility and their need for grace and mercy because they cannot stand on their own merits, they want it to happen. They would rather bow down in the glory of God than stand tall and proud without it.
Love overflows from the person who has met God. They may not be a “hugger,” and they may not make you feel all gooey and soft when they are around, but love motivates them. It is helps them forgive instantly when they are wronged, makes them fight for those who are undefended, urges them to speak life change to those who need it, and walk away from those who would bring harm to them and the Christ they love so much.
You can be a “Christian” for years and years without a true encounter with God. If you wonder why people enjoy reading their Bibles, how they can sing with passion for hours on end, how they can smile when they should be wallowing in self-pity or love when they should be angry, you probably haven’t had it yet. If you compare yourself to others to see who is doing better, who is more spiritual, who is further up or down the chain, than you have not had it.
My prayer is that everyone I reach with God’s message will meet God. It may look different in your life than it has in others. Moses had a burning bush. David sang on hillsides. Isaiah saw the glory of God. Paul was knocked off his donkey. John saw Him on a prison island. You could setup circumstances and settings that should produce a meeting with God that won’t. And you could find God in a place you did not expect. It could be on a step at the front of a sanctuary, or on the side of the road, or in your bed at two o’clock in the morning.
If you think you have truly met with God, consider what evidence you have. What changed? What should have changed? Is your spiritual appetite insatiable, or is it non-existent? Do you love and forgive when you should be hurt and angry? Can you sing, “You’re all I want” and truly mean it?
A real encounter with God is everything. If you have not had it, everything else you do at church is worthless. It is going through motions rather than expressing the unique relationship you have with the only Living God. Meet Him, and then do it again. It is what life in Him is all about.