Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Mind-Boggler

A decade ago, I went to Eastern Europe on a short-term missions trip. On our first Sunday, we went to a church service in what had been a movie theater and conference complex in Budapest. The place of worship was the theater, and the service was in Hungarian with English translation. I can remember sitting there before the worship service started, convinced beyond any doubt that I could sense God’s presence, even in this rather shabby, badly constructed theater.

Everywhere we went on that trip – Dresden, Erfurt, Prague, Brno – I could sense God’s presence, and even more than I could in my hometown back in the United States. God was there.

In Christian families, we grow up hearing our parents, relatives, church teachers and pastors talk with us about “having Jesus in our hearts.” We did the same with our own children. We teach, and we learn, that life on this earth is about knowing God, serving Him and wanting to please Him. Our bodies are “temples” of the Holy Spirit, and nothing is more important that having Jesus in our hearts.

In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer goes a step further. This “dwelling within us” is all true, and all critically important. But there’s more.

“God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works,” says Tozer.

No, this isn’t pantheism, Tozer notes. Pantheism describes God as the sum of all created things. What Tozer is describing is God’s immanence – God is here. “There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not.” He transcends creation, but He is here in and among His creation.

The mind boggles. It’s not the only characteristic of God that boggles the mind. But it boggles.

I say I believe that, but if I truly did believe that, would I live my life any differently? It’s one thing to have Jesus in my heart – but to moving through a creation where God is?

This takes me in an unexpected direction. I understand why Ann Voskamp calls her blog blog about her life and faith “A Holy Experience.” It is because that’s what our lives here on earth actually is – a holy experience. And it’s holy because God is here.

Would we live our lives differently if we really believed that? How? What would change?

I’m still pondering.

Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading Tozer’s The Pursuit of God.  To see more posts on this chapter, please visit Sarah’s blog, Living Between the Lines. Next week we’ll conclude the discussion of this chapter, “The Universal Presence.”


Karen Kyle Ericson said...

Good question Glynn. Sometimes life seems holy and sometimes spinning out of control until I kneel at God's feet and find my point of reference again. I'm a fan of Edvard Munch too. I thoroughly enjoyed learning of the old masters in Art School.

Megan Willome said...

One of the bravest things my mom ever did was to not send my brother to a Christian school when he needed help. She found a school with a strong outdoor program, reasoning that God made the earth, and if her son was out in it every day, that would be enough. She was right.

jasonS said...

It is incredible. It is humbling. It's beyond comprehension. You're pondering some great questions. I'll ponder them with you. Thanks Glynn.

nance said...

Why is it that we don't sense the same things at home?

Fatha Frank said...

Growing up my sister and I would notice how we "felt" God's presence at church. Maybe it was just the atmosphere of extra reverence, or maybe my heart has grown hard as I've grown older, but I don't get that same sense much anymnore. Yet now I do feel his presence in his actions- when I see an answered prayer, when a struggle is overcome, when I see others lay down their lives for the less fortunate. Same God, yet different feeling. All that tells me is that he dwells both within our four walls of church and without amongst his people. Good post, Glynn