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11. God is everywhere present at the same time

Christian theology in a Sudanese context. The essential nature and character of God.

The Omnipresence of God

To be ‘omnipresent’ means to be ‘present in all places at the same time’. Have you ever wished you could be in two places at one time? May be there is a conference you would like to attend in Khartoum, but you have responsibilities to your family at a wedding in Port Sudan. If only you could be there and here as well, but you cannot.

God, of course, is! A.W.Tozer, an American preacher and author of the twentieth century, wrote: “God is our environment as the sea is to the fish and the air to the bird”. “The doctrine of the divine omnipresence personalises man’s relation to the universe in which he finds himself”. We are never alone. God is with us everywhere. The writer of Psalm 139:7-12asked if there was anywhere he could get away from God’s Spirit. The obvious answer is ‘No’. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God declared that He filled earth and heaven, that He was both nearby and far away, and that He could see all that was happening even if people thought they were keeping it secret. (Jeremiah 23:23,24). We could think even beyond that: before heaven and earth were created there was no ‘where’ to be; but God was still ‘there’! It is all of God that is everywhere. Remember God is Spirit and has no size. God is not partly here and partly there. We make a mistake when we ask God to ‘come amongst us’ at a meeting. Since He is omnipresent He is already there! Of course it is reasonable to ask for His help so that everyone there will recognise His presence, but leaders should be careful not to mislead by careless use of words. Jacob did not realise he was in God’s presence when he was running away from Esau. Only after his dream of a ladder reaching up to heaven, did he acknowledge he was always in God’s awesome presence. (Genesis 28:10-22). We often forget we are in God’s holy presence. There are special times when God is felt nearby but other times when He seems away in the distance, or even not there at all. We can be more aware or less aware of His presence, but He is always there. God is always close to us whatever is happening. We should practise His presence. We should keep uppermost in our minds that God is there. I read of Dinka tribesmen who carved crosses on their walking sticks to help them remember that God was still with them even as they walked away from their homelands due to fighting, famine or both. Many Christians find the wearing of a cross or the early Christian sign of the fish helpful in remembering this. A favourite Bible text hand-written on a small card can serve the same purpose. God is transcendent – over and above all of His creation, and He is also immanent – His strongly influencing presence is within all of life. He is distinct from the world, but directing the overall course of events. A major key to Christian living is to consciously recognise God’s presence everywhere and in every situation. People are more aware of God in some places than in others. Scripture shows that we can know God in some places more than in others (for example “the Most Holy Place”, Exodus 26:33; Exodus 28:30; Hebrews 10:19). The following exercise caused much discussion among students at Gideon Theological College: Keeping in your mind the omnipresence of God … 1. How far away from the burning bush was the ground still holy? Exodus 3:5. 2. Could God’s “Presence” possibly be taken away from Moses and the Israelites?

Exodus 33:14,15. 3. What “presence” of God could David possibly lose? Psalm 51:11. 4. What does Jesus mean on Judgement Day, “Depart from Me …”? Matthew 25:41. 5. What does James mean: “Come near to God and He will come near to you”? James

4:8. God’s presence is not to be limited to being in one place, but is to be enjoyed within a relationship experience.

Thinking it through.

(a). Since God is omnipresent, can it be right to say “We invite You to come and be with

us, Jesus”, at the beginning of a worship service?

(b). What do we really mean? How can we express it better?

(c). If you were on your own in a very bad situation, (prison, danger, etc.),how would

thinking of God’s omnipresence be a help to you?


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