How to Experience God
Do you sometimes feel that there is more to the Christian life than what you are currently experiencing? Something deeper that should be experienced which you are not experiencing? You thirst or even hunger for more encounter with God? Everything that you are used to really doesn’t even convince you much about God’s love and power? Everything that you have learned seems like theory, sometimes maybe even like a ferry-tale that you have never seen in action and maybe as far as you are concerned may or may not be true?
If you have had those kinds of questions, then welcome to the club. Millions of Christians around the world feel that way. They honestly realize that their Christianity lacks any power and they are going through the motions. Their lifestyles couldn’t convince anyone that there is power in Christ. I was there before and recently our team created a program called Missionary Mandate to meet that need. I was writing an article to explain what Missionary Mandate really is when this article just kept flowing out of my spirit. I intended to write about hundred words but in that one sitting, all this came out and I decided to share it with you. I believe that if you read it, it has the potential of changing your life. Here you go.
Missionary Mandate combines experiential learning with traditional lecture/seminar text-based classes to enable students to live out what they learn. Missionary Mandate creates an environment for the Holy Spirit to work with willing students to develop a lifestyle that will lead to healthy and continuous growth in their relationship with God. Christianity is a practical faith, not a theoretical faith. A person will never understand the depths and the riches of God’s love as God desires them to understand until they themselves experience what mother Teresa discovered and said “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” When you have poured all the love you can give until it hurts, and you see that God’s love continues to flow through you, you will understand experientially what God’s love really is–how deep and how infinite it is.
A sermon or a book cannot teach that. From Moses and Joshua to John the Baptist and his disciples; then Jesus and his disciples; Paul and his disciples like Timothy and Titus, Christianity has been best taught and propagated through an apprenticeship or mentoring relationship called discipleship. Jesus taught his disciples (e.g. the sermon on the mount and how to pray etc) but he also taught them by living 24/7 with them so that they learned from seeing him do as much as from hearing him teach.
Missionary Mandate creates that environment where people learn from more mature Christians in a live/learn kind of relationship that combines lectures with experience to cultivate a lifestyle in the students that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
In the same way, a person cannot understand the power of God to save sinners as God wants them to understand until they themselves have been involved in sharing their faith consistently with others and have seen God move to save sinners in a way that blows their mind. When that happens, their knowledge of God moves from head knowledge to heart knowledge that builds strong faith in God. Listening to a testimony of what God is doing through someone else is good, but it doesn’t even come close to the life-transformation you experience when you yourself experience the miracle. You know, sometimes, when people tell testimonies, you can be a little wary because they can really be embellishing the story or just too emotional and saying things that didn’t happen. But you know yourself and when God does it in your face, all doubts are shattered and faith is built up.
Many people don’t have faith in God because they haven’t experienced him. They may have a head full of knowledge of God and can tell you how God works, but they have no experience of him. Look at what John the apostle writes in John 2:11
“This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” People put their faith in Jesus because of what they saw him do in their presence. We see this reasoning repeated many times in the gospels. People put their faith in Christ because of what they saw him do right in their midst. God is not going to do miracles to us when we sit in our living rooms and watch TV many hours per day. He usually wouldn’t even if we studied the Bible all day and prayed inside the safety of our home.
Many credible testimonies today are coming from great miracles that God is doing through churches in China, many African villages where few people don’t know God. God does his miracles not to please Christians but to lead people who have never heard about him to Christ. God will do a miracle like he did to Peter (in Acts 12) when he sent an angel to take him out of jail and pass before guards if you are locked up in prison and about to be executed simply because you were boldly obeying God to preach the gospel even in a dangerous country situation that you knew before hand that you could be killed for it. Remember these guys were bitten before and asked not to preach the name of Jesus again. (Acts 5:40)
God will cause an earthquake to happen when you worship him from a jail cell instead of complaining in it like he did for Paul and Silas (Acts 16). He didn’t do that miracle when they worshiped in a comfortable home. God did it to save the jailer and show his power to both the jailers and Paul and Silas. God will do miracles and even drown Pharaoh and his army when you have obeyed him to go to Egypt and have been put in slavery there and are suffering and calling for his name. [Remember that God had told Abraham his children will be slaves in Egypt for centuries. God also gave those dreams to Joseph and tool him to Egypt before eventually bringing the entire family setting the stage for their eventual enslavement]
What we do is that we do everything to avoid serving God fully and doing dangerous things for God and we live in our safety. From our safety, we pray for God to do mighty miracles. We forget that the very places we are staying away from (the hardships, the persecution, and the uncertainty of giving it all for Christ) are the very conditions that make for a great miracle of God. Our environment of safety and certainty makes it very unlikely for miracles to happen. Can God make a miracle that multiplies bread and fish to feed a group of people who are well fed people and who have all kinds of delicacies in their home? No, but he will do that to feed people who have been pursuing Jesus for three days so much so that they forgot that they needed to eat!
The only way to experience God is by giving it all. Many of us will never experience God fully because we do everything possible to hang-on to our comforts. A.W. Tozer said “Faith Dares to Fail”. He couldn’t be more right. When king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3 threatened to throw the three Hebrew men in a furnace, they dared to fail by saying “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
These guys could have simply worshiped the King’s idol and they would be set free. We Christians today would worship it and then rationalize and say we just did it outwardly and not in our hearts or simply to please the King. But they “dared to fail” and trusted God. In Daniel 3:25 we see that Jesus himself came down from heaven and entered into that furnace to save those three guys because of their faith that dared to fail for God. We also see Abraham who dared to fail by leaving everything he knew to go to a land where he lived and died as a stranger, never even beholding the things that were promised to him. He only saw them from afar and received them. In our faith, we too dare to fail! That is the kind of environment of uncompromising faith that Missionary Mandate creates so that the Holy Spirit can help students develop life-changing lifestyles that glorify God.