They say God is in their church--that's what church people hype about. If you bite the bait and go there, they'd try to make it look and feel like that--that God is there. They'd make everything solemn or lively, look serious with what they're doing, then chant that "God is here, Amen?" The rest would answer, "Amen!" If you don't respond accordingly, they'd say something's wrong with you spiritually.
But if you'd be honest about it, there's no sign of him there. No God in church. All you see is what man is doing in church. All you have is a man-encounter. But they'd say, you must believe that God is there, even if you don't see him. Happy are those who believe and yet not see. You must believe that where two or three are gathered in His Name...
Okay, but God is still not there. His omnipresence is probably there, as it is present in beer houses, sex dens, drug sessions, and Congress, but it's not the kind of presence that Jesus was talking of when he said where two or three are together in my Name, I'm in their midst. When New Testament believers talked of God's presence, they talked about his manifest presence, not omnipresence. God was really there, manifesting.
Manifest presence was when the apostles did signs and wonders and the church was filled with awe; when Peter walked and his shadow healed the sick, because it wasn't his shadow but Christ's; when Paul was blinded by a glorious light at noon and heard Jesus speaking along the road to Damascus; when Peter, in a trance, saw a huge blanket being lowered from heaven and carrying various unclean animals; when the disciples were filled with the Spirit and spoke in various tongues at Pentecost; when the Spirit took Philip away supernaturally and landed in Azotus; when Paul and Silas were worshiping in prison and a great earthquake set them free; when Paul was caught up to the third heaven; when Peter was sleeping and was awakened and set free from prison by an angel; when Jesus went up a mountain to be transfigured; when Jesus fed the 5000 and the 4000, and so much more.
Not to mention what happened in the times of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and David. Not to mention what Ezekiel saw in his visions. When bible people said, "God is here!" it was for real, not just imagined or a kind of empty mental faith church people today take refuge in.
When they said, "God is here!" you can be sure God was really there! He himself was there--not just his omnipresence. It wasn't just hype, imagined, or advertisement. So, where is this manifest presence now? It's nowhere in church. No God in church, as there was no ark of the covenant in the holy of holies in the time of Jesus. Jesus was out of the temple and out there in the streets while the religious priests, Pharisees, and Law teachers were still looking for God in there.
The church today looks so, so different from how the New Testament church was. And yet we're just satisfied the way things are, the church having nothing but man's religious and biblical gimmicks. Church people just sit content and proud with their programs. They watch the "worship" service, listen to the songs and the preaching, like the choir, get blessed and touched, and "close" in prayer. Then they slowly move out of the church building, greeting each other, their pastor shaking their hands and blessing them, and they go home. Some of them return later for more activities.
The next Sunday, they do the same things, and that goes on year after year. Where is God in that? Any cult can also do the same things.
Now, if you'd watch all the above from the outside looking in, they'd all look gentle and wonderful and spiritual and correct. But if you are an insider and begin to know what's really going on behind the scenes, you'd see the horror in most churches. And yet they just carry on like that, year after year. They don't care if there's no God in church, if there's no supernatural activity from the supernatural God in the bible, if they don't look like the radical Jesus church in Scriptures. All they care about is carry on with their Christian traditions and nice programs each year.
As long as they claim bible verses, like "Where two or three are gathered..." or "I shall never leave you nor forsake you," and things like that, they imagine God to be there in their midst. Yes, his omnipresence. But if omnipresence is all we care about, we better go to the malls than to church. It's the same presence, anyway.
Where Two or Three are gathered in My Name
If you really gather in Jesus' Name, it means you gather together in Jesus' nature. Each of you are living the Jesus LIFE daily, each moment, and this life is holy, spiritual, perfect, powerful, and supernatural yet meek and low profile. Is that how our churches look today? Jesus said, blessed are the poor in spirit. And yet no church today is like this. They all want to be the best and most popular mega church with posh buildings and equipments and interiors they love bragging about, though in the guise of doing it for "God's glory." And they parade their titles, degrees, and positions around. No wonder we enjoy no more than God's omnipresence when we claim that, "God is here!" in our churches.
I've attended churches were worship leaders "scolded" church people for not worshiping enough. The leader would say something like, "Aren't you ashamed that you're just giving your second best for God?" The fact that there's just second best worship going on there is because there's no God in church. Probably, just his omnipresence. Because if the manifest presence is really there, that leader won't have to scold people in church. People would just pour out their hearts, kneel down, and worship desperately, even before worship service starts.
If God's awesome presence is not in church, the worship leader and the worship team have to re-think their spiritual standing before God. After all, they are leading the people in worship. Leading means you're the first to go to that place of genuine worship and show people the way. You cannot just tell people where to go--you take the lead. And by the time you're there, and God is there, you won't have time to scold people because you'd be so engrossed in God's awesome presence. Moses left the Israelites and went up Sinai, too absorbed about God to give any attention to the Israelites' fear of Him. Joshua was just so absorbed in God, too.
Well, later Moses went down from Sinai to find the people worshiping idols with Aaron, and he threw the Tablets on the ground in frustration, like worship leaders scolding people for not worshiping enough. Did it have any effect? None. Did the people worship better after that? No. Did God commend him for it? No. All God did was to tell him to make another one.
Now, "engrossed" doesn't mean you keep repeating choruses over and over again just to "enter" the presence of God during worship. Though this is sometimes needed--as the Spirit leads--we should never make it a formula for worship, doing it each Sunday. We should come to church having pre-entered the presence. We need to worship right after waking in the morning, and we need to have this as a life--a daily thing. So that Sunday worship services are never our main course but just a snack. Our main course is our daily profound fellowships with God when we are intimate with him and get the spoken Word right from his mouth. Without this, there is definitely no God in church.
We should pursue God and the worship pictures he presented in the bible where his awesome presence was manifest, not just claimed or believed in. Faith should trigger God's actual showing up right there, because faith should please him. According to Hebrews 11, Enoch pleased God through his faith so that he walked with God and was no more! You see that? Where is that today in the church? If our faith pleases God, we should be able to walk with him in church and be no more! No more because "It is not I who live but Jesus Christ himself who lives in me!"
As it is, churches are still churches of the ego. We see nothing but man.