Victoria spoke last night at Manly Life on that great passage in Exodus where Moses says to God; “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
In the same passage God promises; “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
This is the ongoing story of God’s people through time – it is His presence in and through us that makes all the difference to all that we do. It should be what distinguishes us from all other people. Whether in the way we share good news, pray for the sick, act with compassion or meet together, it all counts for nothing if the presence of God is not with us. Some thoughts for us as individuals, churches and in our communities…
1. Personally we need to take seriously being the temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Co 6:19). The same Spirit/power that conquered the grave now lives in us (Rom 8:11), the same Spirit of Jesus is now shaping our character (Gal 5:22-26), indeed the same Spirit cries out within us that we are the children of God (Rom 8:15-16). We live as children shaped by the presence in us!
2. As churches we are known for the presence of God dwelling in our midst. Just as the early church was filled with awe, miracles, signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), our meetings today are to be characterised by the presence of God. When someone comes to one of our services we owe them an encounter with the presence of God. Whether that be in a sense of peace and grace or in mighty demonstrations of God’s power – we are to be seekers of his presence with us!
3. In our community we are to be the visible carriers of God’s presence. Jesus promised after his resurrection that “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28:20). Whatever we do in our communities, let it be characterised by Jesus being there with us. An act of mercy, a word of good news, an encouragement, a prayer of faith – may His presence go with us!
Theologically I believe that battle is over – the church has awoken to the need for the presence of God to manifest in our lives, in our churches, in our mission. “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And where we don’t see it yet, we keep seeking and praying. God don’t send us unless you are with us!