Saturday, May 25, 2013

Where do we go to encounter God?

“I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!” (Psalms 63:2–3 NLT)

“So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.” (John 1:14 NLT)

David went to the sanctuary to encounter God. There he gazed upon the power and glory of God. He soaked in God's unfailing love which David said was better than life itself. This encounter, when David came into the sanctuary of God led David to a place of worship and praise.

John and the other disciples also encountered God. They saw the same unfailing love and faithfulness that David saw. They saw the same glory - the glory that is from the only Son of the Father. This encounter with Jesus led them to a life of worship. Their life of worship became, not just going to the temple to pray, but taking the gospel to the world. Why this difference?

The main difference between these two passages is one of location and initiation. In Psalm 63, David came to the tabernacle and encountered God. David went to God's place. In John, Jesus left the true tabernacle in heaven in order to come and make His dwelling among men. He came and lived among us - we beheld His glory and did not have to visit a sacred place in order to do it. Every place that His feet touched became a sacred place. In this encounter, Jesus changed worship from an activity centered in a building to a way of life involving the Kingdom of God advancing into every place on earth. In order to worship, God's people are urged to present their bodies as a living sacrifice.

Alan Hirsch is the first person I heard (or read) using the term missio Dei—the sending of God. This is the idea that by his very nature, God comes to His creation and takes the initiative to redeem them. A deeper understanding of this doctrine leads God's people to be missional in the same way - taking the gospel into their world rather than trying to attract people to a place, space, or activity.

As Alan Hirsch says,  "As the people of a missionary God, we ought to engage the world the same way he does—by going out rather than just reaching out. To obstruct this movement is to block God's purposes in and through his people. When the church is in mission, it is the true church."

Where do we go to encounter God? The answer will impact the way we live and the way we worship.

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