Tuesday, February 27, 2007

If God is Next to You, Why Aren't You Talking to Him?

Pouncy High Tea at Goodwood Park Hotel
An old mate stopped over in Singapore from Hong Kong and the usual suspects met for a chat and some tea at Goodwood Park Hotel. (The usual suspects, that is, except the one in a rock band who, at 3pm in the afternoon, had yet to recover from the previous night's shenanigans and another who, after graduation, quickly descended into the bowels of yuppie-dom, having acquired in rapid succession a backbreaking career, a wife, some property, a car and an absurdly-spoilt pomeranian whomwhich he and his wife have taken to cuddling and calling their precious baby.)

What a strange universal phenomenon "meeting-up" is. Christians are encouraged to keep meeting up for mutual encouragement in the faith (Hebrews 10:25). Non-believers enjoy get-togethers as well. There are the obligatory annual family gatherings and dreary school reunions, but also gatherings of strangers who may very well not share common interests. Leaving aside all other sociological/moralistic theories, pure meet-ups (as opposed to communal activities like watching a movie or spearing a mammoth for dinner) appear to be for communication that builds relationship, whether in starting a new one or in perpetuating an existing one, whatever the reason for such relationship-building (cynics say such networking is for the future, just in case the other people prove to be somehow useful).

What about meeting up with the king of the universe? In the Old Testament, the Israelites met with God in the tabernacle or in its slightly-less-temporary successor, the temple (after having cleansed themselves with the blood of animals). But as Jesus said to the hapless woman at the well in John 4, God isn't just found in a specific geographical location; God is spirit, he is omnipresent, so we can meet with him anywhere, at anytime. And the reason why we sinful people can even approach him and enter his presence is because of the cleansing blood of Jesus and his continued high priesthood in heaven (Hebrews 4 - 5).

If we have this tremendous free access to the most powerful man in the world (hint: his family name is not "Trump" and he does not spot a dead (but well-groomed) pomeranian on his scalp), why, then, do we not with confidence draw near to God's throne of grace?

We do not pray possibly because of several intertwining reasons:
(1) we forget the reality of God!
(2) we forget the presence of God!
(3) we forget that our life's endeavour and the reason for our existence is to please God!

It is not, of course, that we somehow, through fasting and repetitive chanting, brainwash ourselves into believing that God is here. If the Bible is true, and there is enough evidence for that (and as William Lane Craig rightly puts it, there is more to it than evidence), then God is really omnipresent. He is spirit and he is everywhere; he is next to you and he is next to me, his Spirit is in us.

If he is near to us, then tis a bit odd to profess to have relationship with him when we aren't actually keen on chatting with him.

Prayer then, is not a good-to-do-if-we-can-pencil-it-into-our-schedule Christian-ish task. We may have our theology down pat, we may be able articulate and even persuade others of the rightness of the gospel (and half a dozen difficult doctrines besides), we may be first-class biblical scholars and witty charismatic evangelists and courageous missionaries, but prayer, private prayer, is an inevitably authentic reflection of our view of God and our relationship with him: is he really real? Is he really powerful and omnipresent? And finally, are we really eager to fulfil our the potential of our saved humanity by serving and pleasing him? If we are, do we recall our weak sinfulness? And in recalling our low position, how can we not ask God, who can and will give good things to his children, for all help to us keep on keeping on in him and in his salvation plan in human history?


At March 02, 2007 12:21 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol trump gives pomeranians a bad name


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