By Pastor Ramon Navarro
“Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. “(Exodus 33:15)
This story in the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan is truly a remarkable one. God reiterated His commitment to keep His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give their descendants the promised land. He had already prepared to send His angel before Moses and the people to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan. This is a powerful testament to God’s faithfulness in His promise and call (Deuteronomy 7:9, Romans 11:29) and that He will never renege on His word. However, He told Moses that He will not go with them because the Israelites are a stiff-necked or disobedient people. God’s transcendent faithfulness honors His word and His promises despite the many failings of His own people.
This remains true for the church of Christ. God’s love and perfect will transcends our response to Him as well as the state of our Christian walk and fellowship. Jesus said the word of God cannot be broken and is irrevocable. The psalmist said that God has magnified His word (Psalm 138:2). This means that God’s desire, plan and message for salvation will remain true even through imperfect messengers and kingdom workers for that matter. When people truly respond to the gospel through the work at Crosswind church, God will receive them into his family as His own children without fail (John 1:12). Paul reminds us that even though we are faithless, the Lord will remain faithful and cannot deny Himself (1 Timothy 2:13). God’s kingdom will advance if His unadulterated word is preached through His covenantal faithfulness and His word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).
We as a church however, should not be content with seeing kingdom results which God would naturally bring as a fulfillment of His promise. We should continue to desire His leading and His manifest presence. When God said that He will not go with His people even though they would indeed enter the promised land, Moses replied: “If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us from here”. Entering the promised land is worth nothing if the presence of God is not leading. As a church, we must be mindful that growth in numbers, a healthy fellowship and even thriving ministries are not the end goal. Though these are commendable and necessary in sustaining our church, nothing can replace the presence of God both in the lives of individuals and families and in the direction of the Church. If we must articulate what the church’s ultimate passion should be in one word, it should come down to a Person – JESUS. He should be central in our identity and mission as a church. People who join us should be drawn to Christ in true worship because they really encounter Him in our midst, saying: “Truly God is in you”. (1 Corinthians 14:25)
What does this mean then? Let us move forward with the Lord leading us to the next level as an intercultural church. Let us together have a passion for the very things Jesus is passionate for and remain prayerful and sensitive to God’s presence in everything that we do. I believe that churches begin to die when they are satisfied with growing numbers and sustained ministries and then miss out on experiencing God’s manifest presence. Paul warned that it is possible to have a form of godliness and yet deny its power (2 Timothy 3:5). The greatest affirmation we can get is when people bask in God’s abiding presence and grow in their hunger to know Jesus Christ even more. However, let us not stop there, like Moses let us ask the Lord to show us His glory (Exodus 33:18). Once we have that undivided desire for His Shekinah glory, God, like He did with Moses, will honor our vision as a church and take us to the land of promise and rest. He replied to Moses: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (verse 14). Together we’ll make a commitment to the Lord that we desire nothing short of His abiding presence and Shekinah glory in our church. Be encouraged and blessed with your families through this holiday season!