The God Who is Near

In 1998 I was in a Paul Cain meeting which radically reshaped my life. Why did it affect me so? Because the way he used his gift was so dramatically revelatory of the love and nearness of God. Suddenly, in one moment, you realize that any goodness or nearness you had previously understood of God grossly underestimates His true glory. For a lot of people, including me, it’s actually more than our character is capable of handling. Although I did not want or intend to, I became too stuck on Cain himself, rather than the aspect of God his life and ministry revealed.

So when he fell a couple of years back, I was very shaken. I had held him up as “the” model for what the Christian life was supposed to be, and yet apparently significant problems were under the surface at least for some meaningful period of time. In particular, Cain lifted up a vision of radical holiness. Cut away everything that is not on fire for God — and on the other end there is something worth having, something like Cain walked in (although he never suggested that, that was my logical inference). Holiness “just because” is a dry pursuit, but holiness, because God will show through you and in you is an awesome thought.

In the intervening years though, I’ve lost the vision of God’s nearness. You begin to understand God’s hand in history and in your life, etc, and you experience his transcendence, but without his immanence, you the form but not the power. The beauty of following God is in his personality. He knows every thought, every action, every hair on your head –“in him we live and move and have our being.” When you are experiencing him as a person in your life, not just a force, you are experiencing real Christianity.

Now that I’ve moved out of the church context where I was, God has been opening the personal aspect to me again, and the desire to be specially holy, specially pure, to be specially close. Yes there is a tension with the fact that we’ve already been made right with him, and we have all we need pertaining to life and Godliness, but at the same time, history bears out that if you draw to Him in purity of heart, there are major consequences — He will draw near to you. And if He draws near to you, then He is near to the Earth–watch out. Things will shake. That’s what happened to Todd Bentley. He sought God so much that God called his bluff. There is nothing in this world like being full of God. Every pleasure of the world only leaves us with a “continual lust for more” but God’s pleasures leave us with a deep satisfaction.

God is not a movement, or a denomination, or any other box we (often unintentionally) put him in. God is so incredibly brilliant and dynamic. Just to see a glimpse of his glory as I did in 1998 can “ruin” an entire life. I’ll never forget what it was I saw in the Spirit.  The purity, the love, the otherness–this is a Christianity worth living for.

This brings me to a related thought, where I think Cain was right on–the anointing is more valuable than anything else. A Church which is animated by the Spirit of God, rather the mind of man. Remember, He spoke the world into existence, but he breathed life into the man. Man is more than raw truth, he is living spirit. There is no theology that will hold life, anymore than there is a box that can hold time. Theology may form the boundaries, but it is animation by the Spirit of God, that makes it wonderful and real and alive.  The “anointing” really is the nearness God resulting in power and beauty. If we are captivated by Him, and sold out to him, we will experience this anointing, and others will through us.  God can change history in one minute under the anointing.

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