Post Mortem

‘His manifest presence’

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/11/2021 1:55:22 PM IST

 The priority of God’s presence has been lost in the modern church. We are like bakeries that are open, but have no bread. Furthermore, we are not interested in selling bread. We just like the chit-chat that goes on around cold ovens and empty shelves. Do we even know whether he is here or not, and if he is here, what he is doing? Where he is going? Or are we just too pre-occupied with sweeping out imaginary crumbs from bakeries with no bread? 

On the day Jesus made what we call his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a little donkey, his path through the city probably led him right past the entrance to the temple of Herod. We believe the reason, the Pharisees were upset at the parade in John 12 is because, it disturbed their religious services inside the temple. It seems they were complaining, what is all this going on? You are disturbing the high priest; don’t you know what we are doing? We are having a very important prayer service inside. Do you know what we are praying for? We are praying for the Messiah to come; and you have the audacity to have this noisy parade and disturb us? Who is in charge of this unruly mob anyway? “Oh, do you see the guy on the little donkey?”They missed the hour of their visitation. He was in the town and they did not know it. The Messiah passed right by their door while they were inside praying for him to come. The problem was that, he did not come in the manner in which they expected him to come. They did not recognise him. Had Jesus come on the back of a prancing white stallion, or in a Royal chariot of gold with phalanx of soldiers ahead of him, the pharisees and priests would have said, “That might be him”. Unfortunately, they were more interested in seeing the Messiah throw off the joke of Roman bondage than in throwing off the spiritual bondage that had become a blight on their land and people. We need to decide that whatever it takes and wherever it comes from, we must have him. And he wants to come on his terms, not ours. Until then, the absence of “awesomeness” Will hunt the church. We can be inside praying for him to come while he passes by outside. Worse than that, the “insiders” Miss him while the “outsiders” March with him. Consider the literal meaning of the Hebrew name of their hometown; Bethlehem means “house of bread”. The reason they left the house of bread is that there was no bread in the house. It is simple, why people leave churches - there is no bread. Bread was part of the temple practices as well; it was proof of his presence - the showbread, the bread of presence. Bread has always been the one thing historically that was an indicator of his presence. We find in the Old Testament that bread in the form of the showbread was in the Holy Place. It was a heavenly symbol of God himself. Naomi and her husband and two sons left home and moved to Moab because there was a famine in Bethlehem. Naomi and her family have something or totally avoid our churches today - left that place and went somewhere else to try to find bread. They are just trying to get by; they are just trying to survive because the church has failed them. They looked, or their parents and friends looked and reported, and the spiritual cupboard was bare. There was no presence in the pantry; just empty shelves and offices full of recipes for bread. But the oven was cold and dusty. We have falsely advertised and hyped - up our claims that there is bread in our house. But when the hungry come, all they can do is scrounge through the carpet for a few crumbs of yesteryears revivals. We talk grandly about where he has been and what he has done, but we can say very little about what he is doing among us today. That is not God’s fault; it is ours. We have only remnants of what used to be- a residue of fading glory. We camouflage our emptiness like the priesthood in Jesus day keep the veil in place with no ark of the covenant behind it. God may have to pierce the veil of our flesh to reveal our (the churches) inner emptiness also. It is pride problem - we point with pride to where he has been (protecting the temple tradition) while we deny the obviously apparent glory of the Son of God. The religious spirit of Jesus day did not want to populate to realise that there was no glory behind their veil. Jesus presence presented problems. Religious spirit must preserve where he has been at the expense of where he is! 

But a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with only an argument. “All I know is, I was blind but now I see!” (See John 9:25). If we can lead people into the manifest presence of God, all false theological houses of cards will tumble down. Yet we wonder why people hardly bow their heads when they come in our gatherings because it is just not there sufficiently enough to register on our gauges. The presence of the Holy Spirit is the keystone of all our hopes. Invite the Holy Spirit to lead your decisions and emotions today! 

This in turn, creates another problem. When people get just a little touch of God mixed with a lot of something that is not got, it inoculates them against the real thing. Once they have been inoculated by crumble of God’s presence, then when we say, God really is here; the problem is that God was there all right, but not enough of him! There was not undeniable, overwhelming sense of him manifest presence. 

People have come to the house of bread, time and again only to find there was simply too much of man and too little of God there. The Almighty one is out to restore the sense of his awesome manifest presence in our lives and places of worship. Over and over we talk about the glory of God covering the earth, but how is it going to flow through the streets of our cities if it cannot even flow down the aisles of our churches? It is got to start somewhere, and it is not going to start out there. It must start in here! It must start at the temple. 

If God’s glory cannot flow through the aisles of the church because of seducing spirit and manipulating men, then God will have to turn somewhere else as he did the day Jesus rode past the house of bread (temple) in Jerusalem on a donkey. If there is no bread in the house, then do not blame the hungry for not going there. When Bethlehem, the house of bread, is empty, people are forced to look elsewhere for the bread of life. 

Supernatural things like that will happen to you too, but it only comes one way. It only comes when the priest and the ministers weep between the porch and the altar and cry out to Jesus Christ, “Spare the people!” There is no shortcut to revival or coming of his presence. God’s glory only comes when repentance and brokenness drive you to your knees, because his presence requires purity. Only dead men see God’s face. We cannot expect others to repent at that depth if you and I are not willing to continually walk in that level of repentance. The world is tired of hearing pompous churches preaching popular sermons from behind their elevated pulpits. What right do we have to tell everybody else to repent when there are such glaring problems in our own church? Hypocrisy has never been in style in God’s church, but we have made it the main attraction in our version of church. What we need to do is come clean and confess, “Yes we have some problems. Yes I have some problems too. But I am repenting of my sin right now. Is there anybody here who wants to join me while I repent?”

I think we will all be surprised at the number of people who will start crawling out from the crevices of society when they see the church repenting! Once again, it all goes back to our most serious problem - we don’t have bread of his presence. Our churches are filled with “Career prodigals” Who love their father’s things more than their father. We come to the family dinner table not to ask for more of the father, but to beg and persuade him to give us all things in his house that he promised are rightfully ours. We open the book and lick our lips and say, “I want all the gifts, I want the best portion, the full blessing; I want all that belongs to me.” Ironically, it was the father’s blessing that actually financed the prodigal son’s trip a way from the father’s face! And it was the son’s new revelation of his poverty of heart that propelled him back into his father’s arms. Sometimes we use the very blessings that God gives us to finance our journey away from the centrality of Christ. It is very important that we return back to ground zero, to the ultimate eternal goal of abiding with the Father in intimate communion. Salvation is a free gift, but God’s glory will cost us everything.

Y.L. Jami IAS (Retd)

Kushiabill, Dimapur

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