Experiencing God The Francis Chan Conversation, part 9
By Jonathan Allen, Wednesday 24th July 2019 at 9:42am
One of our objectives as a family of charismatic Messianic Jewish congregations is that every one of our people should experience the power and presence of God. Not, perhaps, for every person at every service, but on a consistent basis. It is the experience of God that makes us who we are, affirms our calling and empowers us to serve Him in reaching out to others and building the kingdom of God among our (and His) Jewish people.
Chan is worried that the church (as a whole) is failing to realise and experience God; that there is no real expectation of, or faith for, the supernatural presence of God to be manifest among His people. He writes:
We have become too easily satisfied. We are content if a person leaves pleased. God wants them awed. I’m not suggesting that we try to make our services bizarre … Nor am I saying that we try to hype ourselves into some sort of emotional frenzy that lacks any God-birthed substance. I am saying that we have settled for the natural and our choices give little evidence that we believe in the Holy Spirit. For that reason, we end up with gatherings that are very explainable and at times feel mechanical and even obligatory.
In the Messianic Jewish world we do have a tension between the fixed and traditional parts of our services – such as the Torah service, with its liturgy, blessings and procession – and the less formal ad-hoc parts of the service, such as open worship and times of ministry. We have to do both and allow the Spirit to flow through everything we do. Canting the Sh’ma as it flows naturally out of declaring the high praises of God and then in turn dissolving into a time of singing in the Spirit and then to the sharing of a prophetic word before bringing the Torah out of the ark to hear that the word has neatly anticipated and confirmed the portion from the week’s parasha should be perfectly natural.
How can we ensure that our people do experience God – His presence, His supernatural gifts, His grace, compassion and forgiveness – on a regular basis? Does this need planning on our part, or is better being spontaneous? Each congregation is different, a unique combination of people, so things may work out differently in each place, but the same theme should always be present. As Chan says, “We have to expect more!“
We need to build that idea in our people as a matter of routine, so that everyone approaches every service, gathering or meeting with the expectation that God will be revealed and experienced among the people who meet.