Friday, March 4, 2016

I Just Want to be Where You Are

There is a popular song on Christian radio, called “Where You Are” by Hillsong Young & Free. It’s all about wanting to praise God and be in His presence. Here’s part of the lyrics:

I'm lifting you higher, higher
There's nothing that I'd rather do
A sweet elevation of praises
There's no one I love more than You
God, I just want to be where You are
Where You are
I just want to be where You are

(Listen to entire song here.)

Doesn’t that sound nice? Doesn’t it sound holy? We’ll just stand here in church, praising God, and being where He is. After all, we know that “God inhabits the praises of His people.” (Psa. 22:3) What could be wrong with that?

Well, here’s the thing. Yes, God is present when we praise Him. God is always present - it’s who He is. Our awareness of His presence may shift with the wind, but never doubt that He is with us. (After all, Emmanuel literally means “God with us.”) But if you really want to be where God is, step away from your pretty churches with their amazing worship teams and music ministry, where everyone is “seeking God’s presence”, and go to the slums, into the home of a single mom trying to feed and clothe her kids; go to the jails, where a prisoner feels forgotten and unloved; go to the streets where a homeless person is trying to stay warm on a cold winter’s night; go to the nursing home, where someone feels alone and forgotten. For surely, God is in all these places. If you really want to “feel” His presence, reach out to those who are hurting. Feed the hungry, clothe the needy, befriend the lonely.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love singing and worshipping God - anyone who knows me from church could tell you that! But if all we are seeking is some transcendent “feeling” of God’s presence, surrounded by the 4 walls of a church building, well, then we’re missing the whole point of the Gospel. Jesus commands us, over and over again, to feed the hungry and help the poor. His life modeled that example for us. The Kingdom of God is love lived out, not love kept within a church building. Sure, we can praise God - we should, for He is worthy of praise. But if you want to “find” God’s presence, I think you’ll have an easier time finding Him where people are in need and hurting.