Of the many interesting and important things Jesus said, the following two are relevant to introduce our subject, Presence.
8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. Luke 16:8 (NKJV)
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)
Here Jesus encourages us to be as wise as the world around us. He doesn’t tell us to function as them, hence His exhortation to be ‘wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’ We are to exercise godly wisdom in the world, not behave like the world in our daily interactions.
As we look at Presence, first some background that relates to the scripture references above. While Christmas shopping, I saw an ad prominently displayed on a large screen in a store, “Here for the Presence.” Now, as a public service announcement, I don’t recommend going to a mall in the afternoon in mid December! However, as I had done that, I had plenty of time to reflect on the ad while waiting in line. That aside, the ad caught my attention and stirred my heart. Some clever marketer hit on promoting the idea that people came to this store not merely to shop but to experience a certain atmosphere, a presence in that place. Which meant there had to be something beyond the merchandise drawing them. That could have been being part of a certain subculture, a sense of identity and belonging.
In my brief interactions with the staff, I also sensed that they also were attempting to create a presence. The ad and behaviour were aligned and it was reflected in the long line up at the sales counter. There was congruence between the stated goal of the ad, ‘presence,’ and the behaviour of the staff. Thus, while still in line I put a note in my phone as I wanted to write about what I had encountered.
In my reflections I began to think about our gatherings as His body and wondered what drew us and whether we intentionally sought to create an atmosphere that would draw His Presence. My qualifier here is that there is a difference between the Lord’s omnipresence and the degrees of His manifest presence. I am focused on the latter. In my experience, with some notable exceptions, most events I have attended over the decades have focused more on gathering people than drawing presence. While we need people, we need them to encounter Jesus when we draw them. I deeply believe we should focus more on aligning all we do to draw His presence. I think we need to spend more time in corporate worship and prayer, seeking to bless the Father’s heart. I believe we need to create space for more to share their hearts and learn how to minster to one another as a body.
I believe that if we think and practice along these lines, we will draw His Presence and His Presence will draw us. Why not build our gatherings around Jesus’ agenda and engage in a wholehearted pursuit of His Presence the way it is reflected in scripture.
4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)
8 When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Psalm 27:8 (NKJV)
18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)
11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
Here is a song reflecting a heart desire for His Presence.
Lord Let Your Glory Fall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGdpMbZey4Y