God's Presence -- Oct 5
If your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here. Exodus 33:15
What other assurance does Moses have but God’s presence to go to places he’s never been before? In the next verse Moses says, “What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (v.16)
What distinguishes us from anyone else, any other association of people except the presence of God to lead and guide and forgive and shelter and save; to shape us into the likeness of Jesus and to reflect his glory to the world?
While we were on sabbatical we had the opportunity to describe our church to people who don’t know what churches like ours are like and to people who don’t know what any church is like. I tried to think of words that were common, understandable, and relatable to anyone.
I started with “We take relationships seriously, so most of us are in a small group with people where we can talk about the message I preached and pray and support each other through life. It’s a lot easier to learn spiritual things and have deep conversations with people you spend time with consistently.”
Then, “We want to make a difference in the world. We want to live out what we believe, not just for each other but for the people who live in the neighborhoods around us. So we find ways to be sent into the world and serve in practical ways. We even took a Sunday off to serve and were amazed that three times our average worship attendance number joined us to serve all over the county. We’re also supporting projects around the world for education, healthcare, sustainable agriculture and spiritual growth.”
I finished with “We worship in a variety of ways that connect with different people. Some really like some of the more traditional forms, and others like a band and still others like to worship in a very casual environment. Since we are a church of maybe six generations we have to practice worshipping together like family.”
Almost everyone I told said, “I’d like to be a part of a church like that.”
What if God is with us and his presence distinguishes us from other groups as a church others really want to know and do life with? What if what they saw was authenticity and love in our relationships, passion and purpose in our service, and hospitality and unity in our worship?
I’m glad we’re growing into a church like that.