WHY IS IT so DIFFICULT?

presence domain 3
EXPERIENCING GOD'S PRESENCE IS KEY TO CHARISMATIC CHRISTIANITY.  WHY IS IS IT SO HARD TO CULTIVATE AND RETAIN A CONTINUING AWARENESS OF GOD'S CLOSENESS?

Spirit 

God is Spirit. We are spirit too, but often we are only conscious of our bodies and emotions.  As a result we find it unnatural or surprising to connect with spirit.

To connect with God--initially or progressively--requires both belief and action. (See Hebrews 11:6)

believing that he exists

working hard to make and retain a connection with him

Engagement

Connecting with God and maintaining that connection requires not only belief but concentration and learning. We sometimes just wait for it to happen rather than engaging and getting involved in practices which help us to draw close to God.  Being passive is no way to connect with God.

Expectations

For contemporary charismatic Christians, the most widely practiced--and defining--way of encountering God is through the worship experience in the largest event you can find.

Of course few people would say out loud that the charismatic worship experience the only way to be close to God but in many people's minds it is the best way which is not true either.  In this way, charismatic worship becomes a superhighway compared to the other dial-up pathways; routes that only inferior people use.

The best way of testing the basis of this way of thinking is to see how the case is built.  Insofar as a case can be made for the centrality of the worship experience, relies on a case made from the Old Testament on one hand and contemporary experience on the other.  Jesus and Paul don't get to offer any advice.

Emotions

Part of the problem is to do with our emotions.  Some of us give them the final say, so that if we don't feel God close to us we conclude that he has gone away.  The rest of us gravitate to the other end of the spectrum.  When it comes to God awareness we dont take our feelings seriously at all.  Either way we are wrong.  God is close.  FACT.  We draw close, he does the same.  FACT.  It's just like with eyesight.  If you can't see something that you know is in front of you, you get treatment.  Its like that with our warped emotions.

Difference

Differences in personality--as well as our life experience and background--make it likely that different situations and stimuli will help us meet God.

And that is perfectly OK as long as we don't refuse to explore all the ways of connecting with God and we don't rubbish what works for other people.  Part of the reason why charismatic worship has become so defining is that when people began to discover the Holy Spirit as an immediate force, the churches where they were were unwilling to accept different ways of worshipping, praying and responding to God. 

We don't want to get caught in the same trap. (More)

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Dave Halls, 04/02/2010