Why is it that I read more in the summer months than the winter? It would seem I should read more in the winter, since there are less things for me to do, based on the often brutal weather outside. Not sure of the answer, but it is a fact I find it easier to read in the spring/summer months. Maybe just being outside with a book (ok my Kindle Fire) is so relaxing. I want to share from a book I’m currently reading, “Hosting the Presence.” by Bill Johnson. (an actual soft-cover book too.)
I can’t digest this book in large chunks. Most theological reads, for me are like this. I have to take in bite size pieces, often checking the referenced Scripture texts and figuring out if I agree with the point(s) being raised. I don’t think this book is for everyone, not even every follower of Jesus. However there are a couple of points I think demand everyone, (possibly even non-believers) take into consideration for their life’s journey.
The first thought I want to explore is taken from chapter 28 of Genesis. The verses that Pastor Johnson highlights are 16-17. “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it. He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
Pastor Johnson explains:
“The elements of this story are simple—open Heaven, Father’s voice, angels ascending and descending, and the ladder on the earth reaching to Heaven. This in it’s entirety is a picture of the church. But the most astonishing part is the conclusion Jacob made from this revelation. This is none other that the house of God, the gate of Heaven. Did you catch it? The house of God is the gate of Heaven.”
I have read the story of Jacob at least a dozen times and did not make that connection. Johnson sums it up like this.
“This picture is quite profound. The Church is the eternal dwelling place of God. And at this moment in time it is a building built on the edge of two worlds. We are dual citizens of both Heaven and earth. As such, we are not only those who are to pray for God’s Kingdom to come, we are the tools who are often used by God to release that reality into this one. I’m not sure that we are to always know the magnitude of what we’re doing or the impact we’re having. But it’s helpful to understand that our obedience always releases His world into this one in a way that is more substantial than we ever thought possible.”
My core beliefs seem to agree with the above statement. The church is not a building, but a group of believers, and in its smallest unit, each individual believer. Gods Kingdom is at hand, it started with Jesus and His resurrection, and will continue until the His return to rule Heaven here on earth. (albeit a new earth see Revelation 21:1 ) When we draw closer to God, following the example given to us in Jesus, we impact people, often without knowing it. So with this knowledge what am I to do? Seems simple enough, the more I follow God’s will for my life, the more I am able make a difference in the world. Of course living in our broken world it is sometimes difficult, if not seemingly impossible at times, to feel I am doing what God would have me do. The good news is that God can overcome what I can not. As a long ago prophet gave us these words.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”