We were created to live in the Presence of God. In fact, in many ways, the story of the Bible is the story of the Presence of God. It’s the story of how we were created to live in the Presence, how we lost the Presence, and how God has been pursuing us throughout history to restore His Presence in our lives.
However, throughout the Bible, we see this relationship with God has always been a two-way street. God desires to reveal Himself to us, but only when we are ready to come nearer to Him (James 4:8). In other words, God is passionately pursuing us, but He also calls us to passionately pursue Him.
We see this when God first rescues the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. When they arrive at Mount Sinai, this is the request Moses made to God:
You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. . . . The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to Him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:12, 14-15
In this passage, we see that Moses is pursuing God’s Presence; in fact, he isn’t willing to take a single step forward without it. He is keenly aware that their success was completely dependent on God’s Presence leading the way.
Because Moses pursued God’s Presence, God agreed to go with them. He came to dwell with Israel in the Tent of Meeting. He led them through the desert with the cloud by day and the fire by night. He spoke to them through Moses and the prophets. He filled the temple with His glory. And He promised that one day He would come closer still—when the Messiah came.
When Jesus arrived on the scene, He had one of the most pivotal conversations of His ministry—an encounter with a Samaritan woman by the ancient well outside the city of Sychar in Samaria (John 4). During their conversation, this woman raises an important theological question: where is the “right” place to worship God? This was an issue Jews and Samaritans infamously fought over. The Jews insisted that the only place to worship God was at the temple in Jerusalem. But Samaritans weren’t buying it. In fact, they had built their own temple nearby on Mount Gerizim.
The question she raised was an important one: where do we need to go to seek the Presence?
This is how Jesus answered her:
Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. . . . A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:21, 23
This answer must have shocked her! Jesus was making a bold claim. He was announcing the arrival of a new era in human history—the era of the Spirit, long promised by the prophets of Israel. This was to be the time when God would return to His people and dwell with them in a fresh and powerful new way.
In the near future, God’s people would no longer need to travel to the temple in Jerusalem or climb Mount Gerizim to meet with God. God was coming to dwell with them—in them. They were to become the new temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19)
The Presence was coming closer.
Today we live in this new era—the time where the Spirit has come to dwell in us. But the work of the Spirit is not automatic. God is truly pursuing us—at this very moment—but He is seeking people who truly want to know Him—those who desire to worship the Father “in Spirit and in truth.”
The question is will you pursue Him?
The story of the Bible is the story of the Presence of God. Have you ever thought of it in this way? Is this a new paradigm for you? What does this suggest about who God is and the magnitude of His vision for our lives?
Was there a moment in your life when you first began to realize that God was pursuing you? If so, how did that make you feel? How did you respond?
Jesus said that God is seeking worshippers who want to know Him in the Spirit and in truth. Do you consider yourself to be one of these worshippers? How are you practically pursuing God in your life?
Write a prayer asking God to reveal Himself to you in a fresh way during this series. Be honest with Him about any concerns or fears you have about this process.