If Jesus wants us to recognize His presence, why don’t more people see Him in their daily lives? What keeps us from identifying Him with us in everyday matters? There are several deterrents that will keep us from enjoying the reality of His presence with us.
✦ Misunderstanding How Jesus Relates To Us Will Cause Us Not To Recognize Him.
Many don’t recognize the Lord’s continuos presence with them because of the way He generally chooses to relate to those He loves. He is the kind of Lover that doesn’t usually approach us in a brash and intrusive manner. He’s not pushy. There are those rare occasions when He suddenly overtakes and ravishes a person with His love, as He did with the Apostle Paul on the Damascus Road. (See Acts 9) However, His normal way is to gently whisper to us in a still, small voice with the goal of drawing our attention and devotion toward Himself until we become totally consumed with Him so that, by comparison, everything else becomes unimportant.
For instance, as He walked with the disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus “their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him” (Luke 23:16). When they reached the end of their seven mile walk, Jesus “acted as though He were going further” (23:28). Why did He do that? Like you, Jesus wants to be wanted by those He loves. Intimacy with Him is the result of an invitation, not an intrusion.
The disciples urged Him – “Stay with us,” they insisted. (Luke 23:29) So He did. This is so typical of the way Jesus behaves. First, He attracts us to Himself until we long to know Him more intimately, then He reveals Himself to us more and more as we respond to the level of knowledge we already have of Him.
✦ Our Personal Circumstances May Blind Us To His Presence
It is easy to become so preoccupied with our own circumstances that it seems Jesus gets lost in the shuffle. The disciples walking on the way down the Emmaus Road with Christ were bogged down in their despair about His crucifixion. At the moment, life was hard and all they could see was their circumstances.
To call them short-sighted is an understatement. They could only see the superficial and thus, were blind to the supernatural of the moment. They were interpreting life through a human paradigm which made no room for the possibility of a Divine breakthrough into their situation.
The threat to the ability of contemporary Christians to recognize Jesus is no different. Our senses are so bombarded with the details of our lives that sometimes it becomes practically impossible to discern Him. Have you become so caught up in the demands of daily circumstances that you’ve lost the consciousness of Christ you once knew? The danger is an age-old threat, known even to those who walked beside Jesus on a dusty road two millennia ago.
✦ Looking for Jesus through a religious lens often conceals Him from us.
Maybe it seems odd to you that I would suggest that looking for the presence of Jesus with a religious perspective can hide Him from us, but that often is the case. There are certainly ways in which we can see Christ within a context often classified as religious. Most believers have seen the Lord through participation in church, through Bible study, religious books, spiritual music and countless other ways that have a religious connotation. In no way would I want to diminish the value of the ways that Christians traditionally have sought to experience the Lord’s presence in their lives. I’m not suggesting that the Lord doesn’t make Himself known to us in these ways, but rather that traditional religious means aren’t the only way that Christ manifests Himself to those He loves. My intent is to encourage you to broaden your ability to recognize Jesus in your daily life.
Jesus doesn’t just speak a religious language. He speaks the regular language of our everyday lives. Those who only expect to see Him within a religious context greatly limit their ability to recognize Him.
My wife, Melanie, and I have loved the chance to occasionally vacation in the Carribean. At times I have stood in scenic spots overlooking the ocean, with my camera in hand. I have felt overwhelmed by the majestic beauty that surrounds me. Blue, crystal clear water stretches out to the horizon until it becomes impossible to tell where the water stops and the sky begins. White, powdery beaches reach as far in both directions as the eye can see. Picturesque palm trees lean forward with fronds reaching out to the water as if they too desperately want to feel the lapping waves. A gentle breeze that seems to promise to breathe youth into any person who will inhale its ocean fragrance. Do you have the sense of what I’m describing?
Now, imagine at those moments that I lift a fifteen dollar disposable camera to my face so that I can take a picture and capture the beauty that lies before and around me. I don’t want to lose this moment. I love it and I want to seize it on film. I want to pull the total impact of everything I’m experiencing at the moment through that camera’s lens and take it home with me on a 3x5 photograph. I want to go home, look at this picture and feel exactly what I’m feeling as I stand on the beach at that moment.
Do you think it will happen? Of course not. A snapshot could never do justice to the beauty. It is a minuscule representation of what I’ve seen, but it just can’t do it justice. The beauty is simply bigger than any camera can capture.
That’s how it is when we try to see the beauty of Jesus through a religious lens. He is the personification of God’s love. It is a love much too big to be contained by religion, consequently He reveals Himself in religious and nonreligious ways. For instance, the Bible says that “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). Clouds aren’t religious. So God doesn’t only communicate through church-talk, but also through cloud-talk. These are only two of His dialects. The number of love languages He speaks is limitless.
(This blog is an excerpt from my book, A Divine Invitation. For more information on the book, click here: http://gracewalkresources.com/item.asp?cID=0&PID=94