“But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is.” (John 16:13, MSG)
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, NIV)
The day I was invited to a church that was quite different from the one I was attending, I was mesmerized: I had never heard of Messianic synagogues before! Even though it was a two hour drive, I was intrigued and more than a little curious, and I accepted the invitation. Once there, I experienced a presence that I hadn’t experienced before: God’s Holy Spirit was there!
Sadly, when I returned to my comfortable, self-righteous church, I found that God’s presence was not present. I was shocked. What was wrong with this picture? Wasn’t this the church that proclaimed it had the truth? Why couldn’t I feel the presence of God? Was it my imagination or what?
The following week, I decided to attend a local Messianic synagogue and see for myself if I would experience God’s presence there as well. I sure did!
The next week I went back to my home church, hoping I could feel my Father’s presence. Again, I couldn’t feel His presence. I had been attending that church for numerous years. I left that day disillusioned and wanting, yearning to feel that presence once again, and my treks to the Messianic synagogue became numerous.
Eventually I found His presence in other churches as well, and once I accepted the Holy Spirit’s invitation, His presence remained in me. I was reborn.
You can imagine why I left my former church. I was hungry for God and God alone. His presence was more important to me than anything else, and this is what attracts people to churches. Not doctrines, not self-righteousness, but God’s presence and the pure love that is stimulated through Him.
After I left my former church, the pastor preached a year-long series on the Holy Spirit, ridiculing anyone who would proclaim to experience His presence. It’s then that I remembered an active evangelist of theirs broadcasting lies about speaking in tongues. He was making a mockery with those who experienced that gift, not realizing that this was but one of many of the Holy Spirit’s manifestations.
Not long after that, another of their pastors confided in me that outstanding members from a nearby church were starting to speak in tongues. They were told not to do so in their congregation, to keep that at home, as it was taboo in church.
I realized then and there that churches that proclaim they have the truth but don’t know actively about the presence of God’s Holy Spirit are erring greatly! Not realizing that Jesus promised: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17, NIV) The world is not the only one that “cannot accept him.” Legalistic denominations fit the bill as well!
If you have never experienced God’s presence, come to God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you fully. Make for your home church one where God’s presence is honored and appreciated, and enjoy bathing in His presence.
In the meantime, let’s pray for those who have never experienced the presence of God; that they too may encounter Him one day and fall heads over heels in love with Him. Once we experience God’s presence, ridicule, mockery and persecution doesn’t faze us. After all, our hunger is not for religion, but for encountering God personally.
Ask yourself: “Do I know personally the One Jesus called “The Spirit of Truth”?
(To access the entire “Radioactive Religion” devotional series, please click here.)