Why are we here? What is this life all about?
Dan Kopp’s 4-3-16 message, “The Power of Now” focused on Matthew 22:36-40 where Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment: love God and love others. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a Christian, I’m guessing you’ve heard that commandment before. In his message, Dan put an interesting spin on it: we can’t love someone that we’re not aware of. Just as we can’t love those around us if we’re not paying attention to them, we can’t love God if we’re not aware of God.
Jacob felt that way in Genesis 28. Verse 12 tells us that “As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway.” God spoke to Jacob from the top of that stairway, telling him about his future, and reassuring Jacob that He would be with him, protecting him. Jacob woke up saying, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” (v. 16) When Jacob became aware that God was with him, he called that place “Bethel”, the house of God and the gate of heaven.
Guess who else is spoken of as the gate of heaven and as a stairway between heaven and earth? Check out John 1:51 (NLT):
“Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.””
That was Jesus speaking about himself. And in John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
In Matthew 1:23 (CEB), an angel appeared to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife saying, “Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us.”)”
Emmanuel. God with us. Jesus. The gate of heaven. The stairway between heaven and earth. He is with us. And what does this mean for us?
Dan went on in his message to quote what theologians have said about “The Power of Now”:
1) Greg Boyd, in his book Present Perfect, said “Over the last twenty-plus years . . . I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus.”
2) Frank Laubach, known as “the Apostle to the Illiterates” and honored with his own postage stamp in 1984, said this in Practicing His Presence, “One question to be put to the test is this: Can we have contact with God all the time? All the time awake, fall asleep in His arms, and awaken in His presence? Can we attain that? Can we do His will all the time? Can we think His thoughts all the time? Can I bring the Lord back in my mind flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind? I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering that question.”
3) And Brother Lawrence, in his classic book, Practicing The Presence of God, said “If I were a preacher, above everything else I would preach the practice of dwelling in the presence of Christ.”
Dwelling in His presence. Did you know that the name Beth means “dwelling” or “house of God”? I love that. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19) My name is Beth, but even if yours is not, you are still a temple of the Holy Spirit, a dwelling place for God’s presence.
I completely agree with Greg Boyd, Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence, but I didn’t know how to phrase it until now. This is it: “Can I bring the Lord back in my mind flow every few seconds so that God shall always be in my mind? I choose to make the rest of my life an experiment in answering that question.”
So, back to this life of ours. Why are we here? I’ve been messing with an acronym for the word “L.I.F.E.” for quite some time now. Listening to Dan’s message this morning brought it together for me:
Our Legacy (later) and our Impact (now) depend on our Focus on Emamanuel (God with us).
You see, if God is with us, what have we to fear? If God is with us, The Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans:
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” -Romans 8:11 (NLT)
LIFE to your mortal bodies. But that LIFE starts with awareness. Focus on Christ, Emmanuel, God with us. And what’s the best way to keep our focus on Him? Thank Him. Praise Him. Rejoice. Once again, the Apostle Paul comes to our rescue with words that help us put this into action:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Keep in mind that Paul didn’t instruct us to give thanks FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances. No matter how miserable things get, we always have something to thank Him for. This is God’s will for all of us. If you’d like to read more on this subject, please do check out these blog posts: Moment by Moment, Life that Really Matters, The Swivel Chair, Daddy’s Shoulders, to name a few.
And here’s how Dan ended his sermon. Again, the Apostle Paul to the rescue, this time to the church in Ephesus (and to us!). Couldn’t be more appropriate:
“May He grant you out of the riches of His glory, to be strengthened and spiritually energized with power through His Spirit in your inner self, [indwelling your innermost being and personality], so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. -Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP)