A while back, I was visiting a friend of mine named Steve. Steve has two young daughters, who were 4 and 6 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 6-year-old tell the 4-year-old they were “going to church tomorrow.”
Without missing a beat, the 4-year-old said: “We don’t go to church, we are the Church. That’s because we are in the Kingdom.”
And the 6-year-old asked, “What’s the Kingdom?”
“The Kingdom is the rule of heaven here on earth,” said the 4-year-old.
When you hear conversations like this one between children, you realize there is no “junior” Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that can talk to an apostle can talk to a 4-year-old girl.
That 4-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 something that comes from the Church. From this perspective, the Kingdom only happens sometimes, if the Church is doing its job right. God will show up occasionally, and then He disappears until He decides to stop by again.
But, in Jesus, God doesn’t just “show up” anymore. Instead, we have God living 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 withdraw from them in times of darkness, sin and idol worship. Though God remained faithful and just, Israel had somewhat of yo-yo existence with Him.
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 the actual presence of God in us through the Holy Spirit. We are a new creation never seen in the earth before Jesus.
We don’t have to worry that God will abandon us or simply not show up. He’s with us always. 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, to stay in this place, we have to learn to abide—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 think we have to feel that way. “Desperate” describes how someone feels when they’re not sure they’re going to ever get something. 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.
We don’t have to chase God, because He is not running away from us. 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. We can still seek to know Him more, but we can do so with expectation and therefore excitement instead of desperation. We can rest assured that He is present in our lives, circumstances and relationships. If we are in Christ, it follows that our 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. It’s about increasingly feeling and knowing the security of His love and 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.
This article was originally published on brilliantperspectives.com. Used with permission.
Graham Cooke is a long time teacher and author with a deep interest in introducing people to their true identity. Read more of his ramblings at BrilliantPerspectives.com.