** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **
There is nothing that changes lives like doctrine. Right doctrine leads to right living. Always. Paul puts it in no uncertain terms when he reminds Timothy why he was left at Ephesus:
As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1 Tim 1.3-5)
If life change is the goal, then right doctrine is a must. What can happen sometimes, though, when it comes to doctrine, is that we think we need new, bigger, better, deeper theology. We think we need to see something we’ve never seen before. We think we need something more impressive than the Sunday School stuff we learned so long ago.
In reality, however, the one doctrine that I have neglected that has most affected my life these past 30 years is not something fancy-schmancy (like, say, supralapsarianism), but is in fact something quite simple. It’s a truth that even the smallest child in church knows. But it’s a truth that I astoundingly almost never consider: God is omnipresent.
Here’s what blows my mind: The fact that God is everywhere means that God is here with me now, and present in the room every moment of every day and every night of my life.
We see the power in this thought when we hear the question: ‘Would you do / say / think that if God were here?’ And of course, we immediately feel guilt and stop what we were doing. But the question is wrong. God is here. Our acting / saying / thinking in an ungodly manner was simply exposing the fact that we don’t really believe in the omnipresence of God–just in the potential omnipresence of God (thinking that he could show up at any moment).
Honestly, how would you work if you saw God sitting behind you? What movie would you watch if Jesus came over to your house? Or would you even watch a movie? What types of conversations would you engage in if you could see the Holy Spirit’s presence?
After growing up in a home where I learned the Bible from a young age, and after being a Christian all these years, I am consistently astounded at how often I fail to live like God is omnipresent. I shudder to think of all the things he has seen me do ‘in secret’ and all the thoughts he has heard me whisper when ‘no one will hear.’ I weep to think of all the time I’ve spent in my life in his presence without even speaking to him.
But, as with every doctrine that is true of God, it helps me to grow in my appreciation of his grace to me in Jesus. Even though he has seen what he has seen, he loves me. He is patient with me. He endures living in my presence, even though I ignore him more often than not. He is gracious and kind, patient and loving. His longsuffering mercy is simply astonishing. The grace that he shows me everyday by continuing to be present with me (and at the same time not destroying me!), humbles me. That kind of amazing grace compels me to obedience–I just need to remember it more!
If God will give me 30 more years of life, I pray that they will be lived with an ever-increasing sense of the reality of his presence. I want to live all of my life just as if God were in the room with me–because he is.