I was visiting a friend of mine named Steve a while back. Steve has two young daughters, who were four and six years old at the time. Steve had to leave the room to take a phone call, and while he was out of the room I overheard the six-year-old tell the four-year-old they were “going to church tomorrow.”
The four-year-old didn’t miss a beat and said: “We don’t go to church, we are the Church. That’s because we are in the Kingdom.”
And the six-year-old asked, “What’s the Kingdom?”
“The Kingdom is the rule of heaven here on earth,” said the four-year-old.
That’s when you realize there is no “junior” Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that can talk to an apostle can talk to a four-year-old girl.
That four-year-old gets that the Church comes out of the Kingdom. The Church is governed by the Kingdom.
A lot of us live the other way around. We see the Kingdom as being something that comes from the Church. From this perspective, the Kingdom only happens sometimes, if the Church is doing it’s job right. God will show up occasionally, and then He disappears until He decides to stop by again.
But in Jesus, God doesn’t “show up” anymore. Instead, we have God living on the inside of us. We are in Christ and Christ is in us.
It’s the difference between what I call a ‘Visitational Culture’ and a ‘Habitational Culture.’
The Old Testament was a visitation culture. God came upon people for specific tasks. Israel had a visitation experience of God. He came on them after repentance but could lift off them in times of darkness, sin and idol worship. Israel had this yo-yo existence with God. Up and down, in and out. Its a temporal relationship based on people’s performance.
Jesus delivers us from that frame of reference. He came to do a new thing. Now we live in a habitational culture because we are born again out of one covenant into another, which is based on better promises and the actual Presence of God. We are a new creation never seen in the earth before Jesus. Many Christians and churches practice life in God from an Old Testament approach. However, all the old has passed away and all things have now become new.
Newness in life begins from an entirely new and different covenant. Christ in us gives us an expectation that we never had before: permanent presence. We do nothing to enter this presence. It is a gift.
However, we must do everything to stay in this place. It’s called “abiding.” Abiding is all about learning to stay, to dwell, to remain in habitational reality with the God Who never leaves.
When you don’t really believe that, it’s fascinating (and a little sad) what happens. You start acting out of a Visitational Culture. You invent ministries that say things like “I want to see God show up” and “Let’s be desperate for God.”
I know what people mean when they say they’re “desperate for God,” but I don’t believe it. “Desperate” is what someone is when they’re not sure they’re going to ever get it. People in the desert are desperate for water. People who are lonely are desperate for relationship.
Being desperate for God is what someone feels who doesn’t really know what God has done. They don’t really know who God is for them. They don’t get that they are no longer living in a Visitational Culture. They are a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
I am not remotely desperate for God. I’m too busy just being delighted in Him.
When you understand that you are a habitation of God, it changes your whole perspective on how you walk with God. You start actually seeking the Lord.
I’m not pursuing God because He is not running away from me. He is right here…”I am always with you.”
When I practice abiding, I am learning to host the presence of God. To enjoy Him, rely on Him, converse, believe and be affected by His love for me. Seeking God is one of the “all things that have become new.” How do you seek someone who is always present? We are learning to seek with expectation and therefore excitement. It is a given. He is here in my life, my circumstances, my relationships. If I am in Christ, it follows that my circumstances are also in Christ!
When the Bible says “seek the Lord,” it really means to stop for a moment in whatever situation you’re in and look around to find where God is in that situation. Seek what comes from His presence, i.e. His wisdom, favor, blessing and power.
It’s not about finding God. He is not lost and neither are we. Life in His presence is about interacting with Him in a greater way. We are loving the learning of being with Him. We are developing the security of His love and we are enjoying His pleasure in us. There is a beautiful confidence that comes to us as we learn to dwell and remain in Christ, as He is in us.
So today, engage with God like He engages with you: not out of desperation, but invitation.
Try praying this way.
“God, thank you. Thank you for always being with me. Thank you for putting me into Jesus and inviting me into a life of abundance, and thank you for meeting me here every day. Today, help me to see myself the way you see me, and teach me to see other people the way you see them. Teach me to host your presence so that I find you in every circumstance, and upgrade my faith to know you’re already there, waiting for me.”
PS: As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.