We live in an age where many people think that we can only meet with God in particular locations or settings. This is not a new idea, it has been around for millennia. Much of the driving force behind the construction of great cathedrals and abbeys was the idea that God could only be experienced in special locations that conveyed something of the majesty of God.
I think that much of the justification for this way of thinking comes from a wrong idea that God confined himself to the tabernacle or the temple in the Old Testament. In Jeremiah 23:24 God declares: ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’
It seems that the reason for these special buildings was not because God could only be experienced in those locations, but rather to communicate something of the difficulty that sinful people have in approaching their maker. The purpose of these buildings was to teach and instruct about the devastating effects of sin and how that cuts us off from God.
So how can we meet with God? The amazing truth of the Bible is that if our sins have been covered by Christ we don’t face any barriers to meeting with God and we can draw near at any time and in any place. But then how do we draw near? We draw near to God through his Word. Whenever we read or hear the Word of God we meet with our God. God comes by his Spirit and draws near to his people in a special way when they seek him through his Word.
The link between God’s nearness and his Word comes out very clearly in Deuteronomy 4:7-8: ‘For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?’
Paul picks up this theme in the book of Romans (10:6-8): ‘But the righteousness based on faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim).’
Paul is saying that Christ dwells with his people through his word. The personal presence of God always accompanies his Word. Many of us long for a deeper personal experience of God. Do we seek that experience of God in his Word? This truth should also give us a very different perspective on our personal reading and public hearing of God’s Word. When we encounter the Word, we are encountering our God.
If you hunger for a deeper experience of God, seek that in God’s Word because God is known best through his Word.