Carrying the Presence of God

As part of Christ’s body, we carry God’s presence with and in us. Some people and religious doctrines try to diminish this Christian responsibility because they believe that it limits or obscures God’s holiness and ultimately His sovereignty by filling imperfect people or because the thought that humans carry God’s presence may imply universalism – people are gods because they are carrying part of God with them. These unbiblical positions are extreme and speculative. However, the bible is clear that the Holy Spirit, and thus God’s presence, is carried by each believer. 

We are the temple of God and God’s Spirit lives in us 

Paul says: “1CO 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1CO 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” Therefore, knowing that we are a sacred temple, how should we live? 

Keep in mind that until Plato, people did not think of the person being segregated into mind, body, spirit, soul, emotions…; they were thought of the whole person being completely integrated. Therefore when Paul says that we are God’s temple, he is not saying that our souls or minds are God’s temple. He is saying that all our being is God’s temple. Further, Paul’s mindset would be directed not only on the individual, which is the primary focus in 1 Cor 3, but he would also be concerned with how individuals related when they are gathered in the congregation. When believers gather, the combined group is the temple; you don’t have a lot of individual temples in one location. This points to the supernatural uniqueness of fellowship. 

As God’s temple, what does scripture say about being carrier of God’s presence. 

Bringing the Ark to Zion 

2SA 6:1 David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. 2 He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. 3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5 David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. 2SA 6:6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. 2SA 6:8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. 2SA 6:9 David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?” 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household. 

What can we do to be better Ark carriers? Let’s discuss ways to carry God’s presence based on this scripture. 

First, we know that carrying the presence of the Lord is a great privilege that is accompanied by great responsibility. David chooses only the “choice” men to usher the ark to Zion, and Obed-Edom was a Priest in Shiloh. These men dedicated themselves to carrying the presence of the Lord. They used a new cart and used the young priest to walk along the cart to protect the ark. They did the best they could but still did not accomplish their goal because they did not educate themselves in the matters of carrying the ark. This implies that the priests were performing their religion so long that it became rote; they didn’t even think about their religious service being accurate, Godly, obedient or any of its spiritual implications. This is a common occurrence when a religion is not centered on God’s presence. 

We should be asking if our worship is spiritual? Is it Biblical? Is it obedient? Is it reverent? Is it done in ignorance or in the light of God’s revelation? 

Secondly, we can learn that dedication alone is not enough. Uzzah was sincerely dedicated, being one of the priests and choice men but was ignorant, and seemingly irresponsible, with respect to the requirements of carrying God’s presence. Therefore God acted against him. 

When God calls us to a task or ministry, it imperative to get God’s game plan. We can’t presume that God will work a specific way, even if He did it the same way before. For example, at Ai, Israel presumed that a few thousand men would be enough to beat Ai but Israel was chased away in defeat because there was sin in Israel’s camp. They failed to consult God prior to making their battle plan. 

This raises the question, “When we worship are we expecting the same anointing we receive last time or are we looking for new and fresh anointing?” When we lead worship, what authority are we ministering under, yesterday’s or today’s? We need the confidence of knowing that ministry we bring to the congregations is for them today. 

Thirdly, part of being “dedicated” was being prepared or consecrated for ministry. The priests would take time to consecrate and prepare themselves for God’s service. This would include spiritual and skill preparations. 

We must be careful not to think that only our spirits or minds are the resting place for God’s presence. 1CO 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1CO 6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 

Paul speaks of God’s sanctification of our whole person. 1TH 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Being a presence bearer implies a life of continual preparation and sanctification. Have we done all we can to be holy, to steady our hearts in forgiveness and continue to take captive our thoughts by the washing of our minds by God’s word? Be warned that God judges continued and rebellious presumption. 

Lastly, God blesses those who have the ark, or are the carriers of God’s presence. Not only are they blessed, but their entire household were also blessed. In this case, Obed-Edom’s son’s were blessed although later they ended up being corrupt priests, continuing to worship at Shiloh even though the ark was moved to Zion. They were performing ritualistic worship and were leading others to do the same when God’s presence was gone. Paul says about Godless people, their 2TI 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. God’s power is not released in a form or religion but through His presence. 

Has your worship grown stale? Maybe you are not worshiping in God’s presence. There are a lot of reasons that God’s presence might be hard to find, but a worshiper cannot maintain religious integrity by allowing empty worship. There are times that require that we press into God’s presence and it will take a persistent effort to get past the comforts that hinder us. God’s worshipers know how to worship Him despite what might be going on in or around them. 

In review we learn from David’s example four ways of being carriers of God’s presence. First, is our worship informed by the Bible or by historical worshippers? Secondly, are desiring a fresh experience with God. His mercies are new every morning; our worship should also be new every morning. Third, are we living a live worthy of God’s presence? Forth, cast aside the things that keep you from worshipping.  

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John White
John White has led contemporary worship bands since 1985. He teaches people the basics of leading worship in an 8-week course (about 20 hours total) and currently works as an optical engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab designing and building the next generation space clocks that should be accurate to one second in 30 million years. John is happily married since December 30, 1983 and has two children.