Can we take the manifest presence of God outside the church?
Many of us have gotten the idea that the church can’t access God’s manifest presence without praise and worship. After all, Psalm 22:22 says God inhabits the praises of His people. So how can we expect the manifest presence of God to go with us outside the church if we don’t take a worship team with us?
But Jesus didn’t take a team of musicians with Him wherever He went. He could access God’s manifest presence in homes, on the streets, or in the synagogue.
We sometimes overlook the very simplest of Christian doctrines: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ doesn’t just inhabit our worship services; He inhabits you. And His indwelling presence is your hope of experiences in the glory of God. His life in you can overflow and make the presence of God known and felt to the people around you.
I tasted this one day when I was a teenager, a senior in high school. I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit that summer, and suddenly in the classroom (I was taking a test) I felt waves of the Holy Spirit sweeping over me. Tears poured down my face and my whole body began to tingle.
I knew this visitation of the Holy Spirit was a gift of grace. I hadn’t prayed for it, and wasn’t spiritual enough to believe this kind of thing could happen in my life. But it was happening, and for the rest of the day I greeted my friends in the halls between classes, put one finger on their foreheads, and asked, “What do you feel?”
Repeatedly I watched their eyes grow large with wonder. “What is that?” they would ask, and I would reply, “It’s the Holy Spirit – I’ll tell you more after class.”
So when the last bell rang I met my friends under the tree – that was our hangout in the schoolyard where we would wait for our rides home after school – and I began to tell them about Jesus.
Nobody was easy to convince, but everybody was interested. This was something more than just a preacher telling them what they were doing wrong; they had encountered a God they could not explain. Within a few weeks some were saved; others said they just couldn’t believe the gospel. “Suit yourself,” I would answer, “but what did you feel when I touched you? Explain that.”
They had no explanation. I didn’t argue with them. Somehow, several of them came to Christ in the next couple of years. God didn’t use me in every step of their coming to Him, but I’m sure He used me that one day to let them know there is more to Him than the religious ideas and philosophies of man.
In the past few years, I’ve been seeing more and more of God’s presence touching people outside the church. Sometimes it’s the gifts of the Spirit touching the unsaved. Sometimes it’s a dream or a vision. Sometimes it’s simply by feeling His presence, which often manifests as a deep sense of unexplainable peace.
Something like this happened with Cornelius’s household. First an angel visited Cornelius to arrange a divine appointment with Peter. Then Peter tried to preach, but before he could have a proper altar call, the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who listened to his preaching.
We will see more and more of this kind of thing in coming years. In a generation flooded with information, only the presence of God can cut through the flood of words and info as deep calls unto deep. God wants to touch the deepest parts of this generation, and birth a new generation in His presence.
It starts with you. Become someone who lives in the manifest presence of God. He wants to use you as a spout where His glory can come out and touch people around you. Christ in you is the key.