I am sometimes weary of the weakness of many contemporary expressions of worship in church, not because I'm on some band-wagon against a style of music, or whether we should have musical instruments in church or not. I am WAY past settling those issues in my heart theologically and practically.
No, I am referring to the over-emphasis of "The Presence"! Wait, don't delete this until you hear me out. I actually live in the Presence, love the Presence, talk to the Presence, and enjoy the Presence of God! But in Charismatic circles, a poor understanding of the Presence has created a form of hide-and-go-seek Christianity that actually has the potential to "shipwreck" our faith.
See, when the Presence of God is reduced to a feeling, then the only way we know it has arrived is by "the feeling". There is definitely a place for feeling in my walk with God, but wrongly placed if there is no feeling, no miracles, no ministry, no God. If our faith is based on a feeling, and that is a lighthouse in the wrong port; an accident waiting to happen. When we approach Him this way, we are doomed to arbitrary God-chasing, and it is really just chasing our tails. I did this for many years, pursuing the Presence, looking for the next conference, the next service, the next prayer meeting before I could really enjoy this "feeling" called the Presence. Only then could I have real confidence in God "moving" in the service.
Funny how Jesus never carried a worship band around with him, and yet amazing things happened. Why? Because he carried The Presence. He never doubted his Father was with him!
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE to feel HIM!!! But we have it all backwards. I embrace and value the manifestation tangibly of His presence. But when I constantly look for the presence of God instead of the God of the Presence I will never really know God! Isn't that the goal of Christianity, "that you might know Him the One true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent."? Who is He? What is He like? What do I understand and know of this God? Do I understand his holy love? Do I grasp his infinite wisdom? Do I know Him, personally as the self-sufficient I AM who is the Lord who never changes? Overemphasis on the "presence" instead of the Person means I reduce God to nothing but a sense driven relationship.
This presence is the Presence of the glorified resurrected Christ who has been separated from all my guilt, shame, sin, condemnation, and curses forever. This presence is taking what belongs to Christ and revealing Him to me by my union with Him. He is here. He is in Me! Yes, as Boston clearly sang it, it's MORE THAN A FEELING.
The revolution in the church isn't going to require longer worship, or "harder" praying. In fact, people who walk into a gathering who have been drinking in His Presence all week, will find the corporate event much easier to "enter in". Personal revolution begins when we become aware of WHO HE IS AS THAT PRESENCE, and as we learn to live in the faith that he is here with me always. He will never leave, nor forsake me. I am a temple in which he abides. I am a branch in which his life flows. I am the banks through which his river runs. I am the deep well, where salvation splashes. He is always here, with me and in me and he is more amazing than we know!
As Jesus explained to the woman at the well, God is looking not for worship, but for worshippers. He is looking for people who will become aware of Him. He needs no worship. We worship not in this mountain or that one, but from the temple not made with hands, from our spirit and the truth that he is with us always. Believe that, and you will experience the manifestations of his Spirit every day!