Video: To encounter YOU is to encounter the presence & power of the KingdomJun 27, 2017
To encounter YOU is to encounter the presence & power of the Kingdom. End of story.
But let me explain…
If I've heard it once, I've heard it a jillion times. I mean, if we're completely honest with one another, I've actually said it- or something like it:
“I need to get spiritually re-filled.”
Or- “I need to get connected.”
And- “I’m spiritually dry…”
The implication from these statements is that, somehow, we're missing something, that we're spiritually empty...
We measure the things that matter to us the most
I was running through my neighborhood one morning, praying and thinking as I moved through the city’s streets. (Our house is awesomely loud = running through the streets seems to be one of my “getaway” times.)
One particular morning, at some point, my thoughts shifted to how, particularly in our city, we’ve shifted from the idea of a planting a peaceful Kingdom that infuses all of life to the strategy of simply planting church services. Every single metric we use to evaluate our success as a church in our city is reduced to the Sunday morning service.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m in favor of the services.
- I encounter the Lord at them
- I’m inspired when I see others encountering Him
- I learn and see things I haven't seen before
- I’m stretched
- I’m encouraged when I see a larger group of people and am reminded that we are on the same page, that we’re “in this together"
- I love seeing the same people at least once a week, knowing that regardless of how hectic the week has been we are going to pause and reflect and celebrate and spend time together as family….
(And, I do think that people who don’t yet know God intimately and want to connect are more likely to visit a church service than they are someone’s small group or Sunday School class. Weekly worship events are the “front door,” often, of a church.)
However, church services are not the sum total of the Kingdom- EVEN THOUGH we have reduced the sum total of evaluating the Kingdom to how those services are going. Think about it-
We measure noses and nickels.
- How many people were there?
- How many money did they give?
Sometimes Many times we even measure raised hands, as if a raised hand while no one is looking (you've seen this drill- everyone bows their head and closes their eyes, usually) in any way indicates that we have a joined a revolutionary movement of bringing Heaven present to earth. Again, though no pastor would say that “church services” ARE the Kingdom, every metric we use to gauge spiritual health at a church has to do with how many people show up to a one hour event on Sundays in which people sit in rows facing the front of the room. And, in the West, the more rows of chairs, the better…
So what would happen if our measures were different?
What if other things mattered more than the number of butts in the seats & the amount of bucks in their wallets?
(Remember, this all came to me while I was running… so while you’re reading this you’ve got to envision me pounding and prodding my way through the city streets, OK?)
What if… just what if…
What if we measured how well we were doing at helping people encounter the Presence AND take that Presence with them when they left the building that Sunday?
What if we measured the full scope of salvation- of people who were rescued from addictions, people who were physically healed of something terminal, people who were delivered from oppression (spiritual and physical)? (Read more about this concept at www.WeOverflow.com/sozo.)
What if we measured how effective we were at releasing people into ministry- not into serving our system of needing parking lot attendants, ushers and greeters, and other “slots” that keep our machine running- but truly into doing what they were called to do?
What if we measured time...? Like... what if we lived life in such community that we didn’t only measure life change during the snap shot of an “invitation / response time” at a church service, but we walked with people long term? What if we knew their stories and saw the ripple of effect through their life for 3 years? 10 years? Through the next generation?
What if we tangibly measured the effect of the church on our city? Is homelessness down because the church is present? Or marriages in our city stronger because the church is here? Is the economy better because the church is alive?
^^^^ Even in the Old Testament these were indicators that God used to show the people that He was among them (see Isaiah 35, Isaiah 58, Isaiah 65, for instance). If the New Testament is a better covenant (which I believe it to be), then wouldn’t these indicators work, too?
You see, God refuses to let us live lives that persist as if His Word is merely “spiritual” and doesn’t bring “physical” results. Sure, I know it’s harder to measure these items- and they are more difficult to do. That’s why we don’t measure them. But maybe we’re selling ourselves short by only measuring the “bottoms” and “bucks” that are present on a Sunday morning.
Back to my morning run...
I always KNEW that to encounter Jesus was to encounter the Father. In fact, there’s a great graphic we use in The Healing Workshop that illustrates this-
The graphic, shown above, is based on a few core concepts in the New Testament-
Jesus said that whenever people saw Him they actually saw the Father. He revealed the Father completely (John 14:7-9).
We read that the fullness of the deity dwelled in Jesus (Colossians 1:19).
As well as-
Jesus is the exact replication of the unseen God. Though no one has seen God at any time, God has revealed Himself completely in Jesus (see Hebrews 1:1-3).
To see Jesus is to see precisely what God is like.
At some point during my jog (I’d slowed down from a run- I was spending WAY MORE energy processing what I was now considering) the Lord spoke to me: “You are an encounter.”
In other words, He was saying, “When people encounter you, they encounter Me.”
Now, lest you deem this heretical, remember the following:
Jesus said that whenever people saw Him they actually saw the Father. He revealed the Father completely (John 14:7-9). He ALSO sends us in the same way that He was sent: “As the Father sent me, I send you” (John 20:21). To me, this doesn’t just mean that “The Father sent Him and He is sending us.” Rather, it means “He is sending us in the SAME manner that the Father sent Him.”
* With power
* Full of grace
* Overwhelmingly humble and compassionate
* Life-giving and emotionally relieving to those in pain and shame
Yes, we read that the fullness of the deity dwelled in Jesus (Colossians 1:19). We ALSO read that Jesus is in us- with His fullness (Colossians 1:27).
We are told to walk in the light, as He is Light (see 1 John 1:7). We read this multiple times in the New Testament- Jesus is Light (see also John 1:7).
He even said Himself, “I am the Light of the world...”
ALSO… in like manner, we read that you are light (see Ephesians 5:8). In fact, “You are the light of the world,” Jesus said (Matthew 5:14).
Notice, we don’t read that we HAVE light. We read that we actually ARE light! In other words, God is not only present with His people but that they also take on His nature, too. To encounter them is to encounter Him.
It’s easy to see, then, that we become an encounter. How could we not with everything that He has resourced to us?
You see, when the Spirit gives you life, you aren't given something extraneous to God. You're gifted the very presence of the Divine itself. You are now of the same substance, the same essence.
You are a source of His presence + power
You were created in His very image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Now, the old nature is gone and you have a new nature- His nature. The Cross resolved everything that was wrong about you, right? This means you don’t have a sin nature.
You are remade.
Recreated- all things new.
You live His very life... or, that He lives that life through you (see Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:21, 2 Corinthians 4:10-11, Romans 8:11).
The Kingdom of God is… remember… get this… within you (see Luke 17:20-21). That is, it’s not only “out there” somewhere, it’s also “in here.” Heaven is as near as you are.
Think back to the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1f.). After asking her for a drink, Jesus suggests to her that she would have asked Him for a drink if she knew who He really was.
He then tells her that whoever takes a drink of the Living Water that He gives will...
* Never thirst again (4:10). They will be satisfied. And,
* They will have a spring of water bursting forth, which Jesus provides to them, that comes from within (4:10).
That is, they will be become a source- an encounter of that same water, the Living Water, that is Jesus Himself.
A source... a spring...
* Not a well. Wells aren’t sources. They tap into a source and give you access to it. They are merely conduits. They must be connected or they're of no use...
* Not a cistern. Cisterns are simply containers. You put water in them to store for later use. They aren’t even tied to a source. They are simply holding tanks.They have to be re-filled... and they can run dry.
Jesus says that you...
Jesus says that you will be a spring of living water- that you will be a source. Not that you will be tied to a source- but that you will actually be a source. You will be an encounter.
Somewhere, we bought into the lie that we could actually become disconnected from our Heavenly Father- that we could think enough of the wrong things, ignore His quiet whisper a few too many times, or "check out" of His reality and into a lesser one which we create...
...and, if we do, we simply lose our identity as sons and daughters.
I have seen this play out over and over. I've bought the lie. You have, too.
But Jesus says we are a source, that our spirits are strong.
Peter and John were walking to the temple to pray in the book of Acts (see 3:6). The came across a beggar. Peter didn’t have silver or gold to give the man, but he gave him an encounter with the Lord instead. The lame man walked- because Peter was an encounter.
He was a source of Divine presence + power.
A Ugandan worship leader I know has a father who was a witch doctor. He poisoned her when she abandoned the “faith” of our family to follow Jesus. The poison didn’t take. As such, her father encountered a stronger power than the power he had- and he began to follow Jesus, too.
She had become an encounter. She was a source.
A man in housing shelter where I used to work came to us from another program. He was removed for disciplinary reasons (he had been drinking). He was currently an inmate with the Department of Corrections on early release. One evening, after teaching on the goodness of God, I invited residents in the program to pray for people near them who were sick. This man prayed and saw another man healed. The fact that he was an inmate and that he had come to us for behavioral issues were not an issue for God- this man became an encounter.
His past didn't matter, regardless of how current that past was. He was an encounter.
Back up to some bad theology
When I was younger, I was told things like, "Jesus lives in you." Somehow, I envisioned a little man standing inside my heart. Or sitting on a throne.
The “throne image” came from countless sermons I heard (during which I’m certain we had ushers counting the number of people in the seats) AND little orange booklets that we used to "evangelize" people. The pamphlets (known in church circles as “tracts”) contained illustrations of thrones inside hearts- complete with little emblems designating who was where.
In some pictures, Jesus was on the throne and we were bowing before Him (Jesus is repressed by the Cross; the self is represented by the “S”). In other pics, we were on the throne and He was standing to the side- sometimes, He was outside altogether!
Either way, the implication was the same: there was a little man living inside of me. Or outside. Or playing the hokey-pokey in and out.
Here's proof. A page straight out of one of the books!
Now, you and I both “know” informationally that Christ comes to live in us. However, we often imagine this to be like a “small Jesus” sitting on a throne in our heart- rather than a “big Jesus” that consumes all of us. And, we often envision Him jumping in and out, depending on the things we’ve thought, the places we’ve gone, or the activities we’ve participated in….
Here’s the truth.
He never leaves you. Ever.
And, He’s big, not small. You are living the presence of a “big Jesus.”
The guys who actually wrote the Bible (most of them having a worse-than-checkered past) insist that things are dramatically different- that you're not empty, that you don't need to get re-connected... that you already have everything you need to do everything you're destined to do.
And that you never lose it.
Make the theology incredibly practical- what it means today
The Bible suggests it's not just that Christ lives in you; moreso, for you to live is actually Christ. That is, He expresses Himself through you. And, He identifies Himself so closely with who you are and what you do that the two of you actually become synonymous.
The One who walked with the fullness of God now fills you.
The same One who says He's the light of the world insists that you're the light.
The One who suggests we should ask Him for a drink... He contends that He'll make you a source of life and water and replenishing that will flood the world around you. You are the drink. And you're like an unending spring. Not just a well. And definitely not a cistern.
The One who was sent by the Father to reveal the Father now sends you to reveal not just who He is but reveal who you now are…
(Rewind and re-read the last part of that sentence ^^^^^ - you’re revealing WHO YOU ARE!
Here's how we visualize it in The Healing Workshop...
Yeah. Watch the video above.
Rewatch and then share it with someone else who needs to be reminded.
Your spirit is stronger than you think. And, when you understand that, you realize that you don't need something from the outside to penetrate your world and change things. Everything you need- for health, for vitality, for well-being... is already here.
Never miss a new post + podcast!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.