Before God can fully bring his glory back into the church, He will first restore the respect and honour due to Him and for His holy things.
We are living at a time when the fear of God and the sense of awe because of His name have hit an all time low. The average Christian has lost the sense of sacredness in the things of God.
I refer to the loss of concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. (The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted it for one so low, so debased, as to unworthy of thinking, worshipping men).
This has happened not deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge. The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking.
With our loss of the sense of majesty has come further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.
Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the spirit. The words “Be still and know that I am God” mean nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshipper of the 20st century.
The apparent lack of respect and honour for God indicates that people don’t believe that God is in the house anymore. What surfaces uppermost in our minds when we think about God is the most important thing concerning us – that He is able to accomplish.
The history of mankind clearly shows that no people have ever risen above their religion, and man’s spiritual history positively demonstrates that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or degraded as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.
AW Tozer writes: “Before the Christian church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology.
She simply gets a wrong answer to the question; What is God like? And goes on from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false.
The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is and it is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.”
In the natural, a guest is handled depending on how the protocol team perceives him. If a dignitary travels incognito, he will be treated like any other person.
The difference comes when a person is known because the procedures for handling the person drastically change to suit his status. If our perception of God and His glory is distorted, then we will handle him casually and carelessly. We need to live with a renewed awareness and sense of His constant, awesome and majestic presence.
A guest when invited initially decides whether to visit or not to visit. If they have accepted the invitation and do visit, the duration of the visit is determined by the hospitality demonstrated by the host.
A host can keep away potential guests by the quality of hospitality expressed. It is not enough to welcome guests. A host should go an extra mile to make their stay comfortable.
I believe that which is true in the natural is also true in the spirit. We need to make provision for God to come and also make it possible for Him to stay. There is power in hospitality!
If you come to my house and I receive you enthusiastically making you very comfortable; you will not only stay longer than you expected, but you will always try to find a lame excuse to come back to my house! God responds to hospitality. He loves to visit and to stay where He is welcomed and entertained.
The Shunammite woman offers a classic example of stewarding God’s glory (2 Kings 4:8-10). This woman made room for the presence of God. She was wealthy and a woman of importance in her social circles.
She was quick to discern that the funny-looking bald man who often passed by her house was a prophet – most likely the only prophet who walked in true power in her day. The next time she saw him she persuaded Elisha to come into her house and eat something.
After the first visitation, she consulted with her husband and they quickly built and furnished a guest wing.
This lady was not satisfied with visitations, she wanted those visitations to turn into habitation and no effort was too great or investment too costly.
This lady knew the power of hospitality. In fact, the Bible says, after Elisha was persuaded, the first time to come to her house “. . . as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food” (2 Kings 4:8e). Elisha was completely defenceless to this extreme hospitality.
The church has a lot to learn from the Shunamite woman. She was discerning enough to see the anointed mission and calling of Elisha.
She was wise enough to want more of a holy visitation and possessed enough determination to follow through her plan to entertain the prophetic presence.
The next thing she knew was that she was getting blessed with things that no man could give – a precious son in old age!
Our actions, attitudes and programs must become God-friendly.
How many pastors are willing to dismantle their programmes and restructure their highly “user-friendly” churches to accommodate God?
We must make room for Him if we want a visitation turned into a habitation.
Are there possibilities that God has visited us, only to discover there was no throne of praise on which He could take His rest?
When God is given a classic reception, He comes to stay. He notices deficiencies in our lives that we have ignored and neglected. When He comes, He causes new and precious things to be born. God will only birth things to people who make room for Him.
Begin to prepare for His habitation now, even before He shows up. You have to create the empty space and equip it with your hunger, your worship and your praise.
Don’t miss next week’s article as we deal with “Handling God’s Glory,” Part 2.
By Bishop Colin Nyathi, an extract taken from his book entitled “Desperate For God’s Presence,” the 2nd edition.