“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The most important thing we’ll ever do in this life is redefine how we think about God in terms of presence. That doesn’t just mean God’s presence in our lives; it means the living Presence of God; living in God’s Presence and God’s Presence living within us. That sense of the Presence as a tangible reality should form the center of all of our thoughts, words and actions, informing the reality we base our lives upon, forming the genetic structure of our perspective on everything.
Sound over the top? Not even a little bit. There’s a common misconception that our focus as Christians should be to pursue God’s Presence, as if He were setting the pace for long distance running. God’s Presence is vast, awe-inspiring and defined by boundless, astonishing love. It’s not a rabbit to lunge after! However, our own capacity for awareness of Him is something that will stretch and evolve with faith and favor. As we work in the Spirit of revelation, becoming more enlightened in how we deal with circumstance, allowing a Spirit of wisdom to influence our thoughts and actions, so we’ll become more and more aware of the Presence of God within and around us.
That’s something that’s only possible these days because we live in a habitation culture. When Jesus formed the new covenant with us, he allowed us to trade in our old way of relating to God, that of a ‘visitation’ mentality, one predicated on events and incidents. We abide in Christ, and He in us: we cannot be separated from Him, or from His love for us. As our awareness increases, our capacity to learn how to become more like Him increases along with it. Every day is another swing further out and up the learning tree, picking the fruit as we climb.
As we grow, we set aside old mentalities and paradigms for viewing life. One aspect of that is in worship – persistently treating worship as though we lived in a visitation culture can lead us to experiences of God’s Presence that are tied more to the world than the Kingdom, with ideas of repetitively seeking a rush, a sudden dynamic feeling, that have more to do with worldly feelings than with the true nature of God. We encounter Heaven in relationship, not in epic swells of passion, peaks followed by troughs. That’s the difference between a habitation culture and a visitation culture. The foundation of worship is built on the bedrock of our acknowledgement of everything Christ is within us.
Think about Matthew 5, the Sermon on the mount. It’s the original manifesto, a de facto mission statement incorporating every truth that Jesus came to mankind to dispense, and the new covenant and paradigm that He brought into being. Key to the structure of the sermon is the repeated phrase: “you have heard it said” followed by the clarifying phrase, “but now I say to you.” It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life. Everything in our relationship with God is mutual and inclusive now, not directed upward or mediated through others. We’re connected to the Kingdom of Heaven. We worship from a place inside the Godhead, from a temple made without hands. We pray with God, not towards Him or into the ether.
All things flow from His Presence, and the reality of that Presence within us and around us. With the heart of Christ, once we begin to see through His eyes and think His thoughts we will feel the Presence revealed in everything around us. As a wise man once said, there’s treasure everywhere. We begin to see signs of Him wherever we look. His footprints are evident wherever we walk. The touch of His hand is as familiar to us as our own. Why ever would one need to pursue the presence of someone who never leaves your side?
Living in Presence and having Presence live in us makes our lives something remarkable. The fact is, no one can be ordinary when they are in Jesus. It’s not allowed! We can choose for ourselves to make life an adventure, or we can choose to make it something that causes us anxiety and fear. Which would you prefer?
Some would say, fairly logically, that adventures usually begin with something going slightly awry. In the truest sense then, an adventurer isn’t someone who embarks upon adventures, but one who sees an adventure in everything, and has the same sense of boundless peace and endless joy when the road is rough, or smooth, level or steep, beset by obstacles or clear as day. In Christ, we find rest, and cannot be overcome. It’s the end of anxiety, the eradication of the negative.
Consider how you celebrate in Christ, the manner in which you rejoice and give thanks. That’s the essence of relationship with Him, after all. We’re not of this earth, but citizens of Heaven, governed by higher principles than those we see around us. That’s where we dwell, living lives less ordinary than we could ever have imagined.
Ben at Team Brilliant