We experience God in different ways.
This past fall, I watched a simulcast conference thing with a couple of hugely popular Christian teachers. They had to decide whether or not the conference would feature a music set. Ultimately, they decided against it, saying that it’s easy to let worship be a result of a specific mood or environment that music often sets. They wanted people to praise God because he’s God. No fancy stuff attached.
So yeah, I sometimes fall into that camp. I like my music, and it definitely draws me near to God when I let myself really listen to the lyrics, the movement.
Books do the same for me. I have a growing list of books I want to read, categorized as Christian non-fiction because I gain a ton from other people’s words and experiences. I love being poured into that way.
I also experience God in hearing how he works in other’s lives. Recently, I’ve felt a lot of joy over Thomas being able to pray with kids at work and give the gospel to them straight. That is so cool.
The heart problem, though, is that all these things have not been God himself. They’ve been substitutes, rather than complements.
I’ve taken my favorite books and made them the bible.
I’ve taken powerful songs and made them prerequisites for drawing near.
In the beginning, there was God. At the end, there will be God. And I think to myself, “Isn’t that enough?”
I’m working on it. Maybe it’s just the human way of seeking something tangible related to faith. I may not see God face to face, but I can read about how he’s moving, regardless. I can listen to something beautiful and be reminded of beauty.
But he alone is enough.
So I’ll repeatedly need to get back to the basics. Just God, and without the fancy stuff.
If any of this relates to you (particularly those of you in modern or contemporary churches), I’d encourage you to read this article. It’s a good one.