What God Promises–Presence

We’re continuing our series on the creeping prosperity gospel. Last week, we explored “what God doesn’t promise.” This week, we’re switching gears, exploring what has been promised.

I have searched the scriptures, and though I could bend a verse or two to create a doctrinal point (“ask and it will be given…”), I am left with one overarching sense–Christ has promised his presence.

I was drawn particularly to the passages in John 14. In a Christian culture that is overly saturated with orphan-care causes (and yes, I have my own favorite), Jesus takes a moment to remind us that we are the orphans. And what does he promise us, the orphans?

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live you always will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
~John 14:18-20

Presence. But he doesn’t stop there.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
~John 15:25

Presence.

“…I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
~John 15:15

Presence.

This week, you’ll be hearing from those who’ve earned the street-cred of suffering. If God were a genie, he would have come from his lamp to change their respective outcomes. If God were a “cosmic vending machine,” he’d have dispensed chocolate instead of something other. But instead, he’s different. He’s a “friend,” who promises presence, peace.

Take in the stories this week. Interact with the writers. They’re some good, good folks.

And for today, won’t you join us? What are the promises on which you lean? Share them with us in the comments.

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4 Responses to What God Promises–Presence

  1. Tanya Marlow says:

    Ah, you’ve hit my raw spot again. God wasn’t, you see, present, during my hardest time. He was very definitely absent.

    I found myself reading up on Mother Theresa who after hearing the call from God to leave the nunnery and minister to the poor, and felt his presence with her – then didn’t feel the presence of God for years, decades afterwards. She felt his presence again once before she died.

    I read of CS Lewis, and A Grief Observed and the distance he felt from God when he most needed it.

    And then I read to Job, and finally thought, ‘maybe it’s not just me.’

    I readily admit that there is a clear promise in scripture that Jesus will be with us, a promise of his presence. How do we reconcile it when we don’t feel it? Do we blame the person? Or is it somehow not meant to be felt?

    • Katie says:

      I wonder this too, Tanya. The only answer I can think of is that we have to learn to separate the knowledge that He is present from an experience of His presence.

      I read somewhere that Luther often felt like God had abandoned him, that he couldn’t support some of the other Protestant movements of the time that relied on having a personal experience of God or listening to God’s voice, because he looked inside himself for God’s presence and found “only darkness.” He could never feel that God was with him, he could only rely on his faith in the truth of Scriptures, the truth of that promise of presence.

      Even with Job, it turned out God was there–He showed up to let Job yell at Him. And that kind of makes it worse, that He was there the whole time and just let Satan have his fun anyway.

      Somehow, we’re supposed to trust that God is with us–He promised us that. But I guess He never promised we’d feel His presence, or that His presence would stop any of the bad stuff that happens to us. Which is depressing and comforting at the same time.

    • sethhaines says:

      Tanya,

      There are some folks that will be writing this week, and they may help flesh this out a bit. Maybe. If not, I’ll give my two cents but probably a bit later if that’s okay.

      Thank you following this series. It’s good to see you around.

  2. J.Ray says:

    Tanya,
    There is no doubt that based on any individual experience, we could castigate God as a deus absconditus, hidden and unknowable. The charge is not one that shuns us from Grace, instead I have found it often opens the door to it. Make it boldly, but with space made for (unexpected?) response.

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