Monthly Archives: December 2011
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Many preachers expound this passage in context of non-believers only, but there is as much ground for believers, as well, to hear and take these words to heart. To say that Christians do not suffer weariness and heaviness would be a lie. Many have a wrong perspective of life and often times are pressed and weighed down by the world’s pessimism. Others can be wearied by going through the mechanics of church meetings, fellowship and devotions – ‘the done Christian thing’ – to the point that all sense of reality has been lost resulting in a warped concept of God. Dullness, stagnancy and apathy are the inevitable and most common symptoms that often go unnoticed by the victims themselves.
Nothing less than the presence of God deals with this root issue that radically alters, shifts and re-adjusts back to the place of Reality: “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light” (Psalm 36:9). What ought to take preeminence over and above our fellowship with other believers is our fellowship alone with God, but many often reverse the order. Even in our devotions, study and prayer time, can we honestly say that we desire and expect to meet with God, or have we become so academic in our approach, thereby missing the whole point: Communion with Him? Oswald Chambers was so apt when he asked, “In my study am I a wool-gatherer, or like a man looking for his Lord?”
Knowing the presence of God is something that we feel; it is real, not a deduction or conclusion arrived at through theological study. Grasping biblical doctrine is never an end in and of itself and yet so many are satisfied with an ‘intellectual massage’; healthy theological study is not only the mind affected and admiring, but also the heart that is profoundly moved beyond words.
I am so thankful to God we have churches that are biblically reformed in doctrine, but I am also saddened that many I know of, and some of the few I have attended, look so grey and lifeless. They have the right doctrines but their hearts seem so detached from them; they seem more like artificial intelligence than real human beings. We should not be afraid of feelings, which is one of the biggest aspects many of the reformed denominations are too cautious of. There is nothing wrong with the known or felt presence of God, a knowledge that God is near, that blows and shatters every misconception of Him and life out of the window. “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually.” (1 Chronicles 16:11)
Many infamous leaders of the church, many who are reformed and brilliant theologians, leaving behind a legacy of great works, testify to the fact that they grasped more of the great doctrines by knowing the felt presence of God in five minutes in comparison to five decades of academic studies in the scriptures. I know at this point some will raise the alarm thinking that I am degrading the study of biblical doctrine, systematic theology, hermeneutics, and so on. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe every Christian should study hard and pray without ceasing to grasp and know the glorious riches in and through Christ Jesus. Sound biblical doctrine has immensely enriched and promoted growth in grace, and many confess they would not be the same without it, and that God indeed ordained it in such a way for them to study. It requires discipline, concentration and consistency; God has not called us to passivity and idleness where everything is just dropped into our lap. Neither does God brainwash us – He may wash our minds of filth – but He never violates our minds and personalities.
The known and felt presence of God is one of the missing jewels of the church today. Oh, for a heart like Moses who said, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). But I think many are too academic, too together, too afraid of knowing the presence of God rather than being afraid for being without it. Many can play church and the expert theologian, but I wonder how clever such can stand in the presence of God. It may bring some of us down a peg or two but it will certainly make us real instead of being riddled with all the humbug nonsense that pervades our well organized, well ordered, rigid and lifeless church institutions. Maybe then the world will perceive that we have been with Jesus, Who beckons them, not regurgitating theological terminology we have no clue about.