â€œThis is eternal life, that they may know youâ€ (John 17:3). This verse got me thinking the other day about the fullness of life in the here and now. Then I read Chambers sometime this weekend, and he also says that knowing God in Christ is â€œone amazing, glorious NOW!â€ This is the fullness of the moment, doxology, benediction, blessing, abundance, right now, this second.
I didnâ€™t preach yesterday. My good friend and co-pastor Doug Mawer did. But I lead worship. I am a part of a congregation and movement that has a history of desiring more of Godâ€™s presence. But while I lead worship, I was impressed by the fact that God is fully present, right now. I donâ€™t have to work anything up, or conjure up his presence. God in Christ is fully present as he promised. The problem isnâ€™t that God needs to be more fully present. The problem is that I need to be more fully present with God. Thatâ€™s always the problem. Itâ€™s our thinking that is deficient.
Which gets me thinking about good friends of mine who feel alienated from the church. For many of them, their experience of church has been painful and frustrating. I think, for many of them, it stems back to this false belief that God isnâ€™t really present, and that we can work it up by purity, heartfelt emotion, knowledge, intensity, and intention. In other words: by our desires, wills and efforts. Many people immediately see through that never-ending spiral downward into religiosity. They, like me, have no tolerance for that anymore.
Can we as a church affirm to people that God is with them in Christ? Can we tell people the good news that the Kingdom of God is HERE, right now? Can we tell people, that without any work on their part, that they have been reconciled to God through Christ? That is the cure to the religiosity that is, frankly, destroying true fellowship.