Having said that I think it would be wrong to assume that's the only way to know the presence of God, to see Christ. It seems that one verse has been used to exalt music as the way to be in the presence of God, in many parts of the church. However, there are other ways (I'm only focusing on one today). What we have come to call worship, both corporately and in solitude, is a relatively easy and comfortable way, but over the last couple of years I have come to believe that there's another highly underestimated way to encounter Him and He pretty much spelled it out:
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40 NIV)
I'm usually not one to over-spiritualize things, and we could say this is just His way to make the point that we get credit for meeting needs as if we did it for Him...that He takes it personally when we do or don't. But I really believe there's more to it.
We believe in an overcoming, resurrected and powerful savior. Absolutely. But He is also the suffering servant. He is familiar with pain - He identifies with it, submitted Himself to it and we never see Him turn away from it, the way we are so prone to do.
He touched lepers. He looked into their faces.
He went near the wild, unpredictable demon-possessed men kept in chains.
He looked past the sin of the prostitute just long enough to see her heart.
He was found eating with the outcast.
He wasn't afraid of the sick and afflicted.
Oh, and He allowed Himself to be mocked, spit upon, stripped, beaten and hung on a cross. All in public view.
I'm just saying maybe we should guard against hiding ourselves away from "the World" and staying in our buildings trying to find God. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are His dwelling place. He doesn't make His home in a building made of stone any longer. He is with you wherever you go. I'm not saying we shouldn't meet together as the Church to worship and encourage one another, but we shouldn't limit our experience to that alone. While the sense of His presence does become more tangible to us, God doesn't only inhabit worship through song and prayer.
What if we can also encounter him when we look into the eyes of
...The mentally afflicted
...The hungry and thirsty
I have so many thoughts swirling in my mind about this that I cannot possibly squeeze into this one post. The main question I have right this minute is this:
What if, in some mysterious way, when we take the time to look into the eyes of these people, to serve them, to care about them, we are looking into the eyes of Christ? What if this is a really underestimated, but powerful, form of worship?
"Lord, when did we see YOU hungry and feed YOU, or thirsty and give YOU something to drink? When did we see YOU a stranger and invite YOU in, or needing clothes and clothe YOU? When did we see YOU sick or in prison and go to visit YOU?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for ME."