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What does it mean to “encounter” God?

18 Mar

This post is more of a question and introduction than it is a completed search for an answer. It is prompted by some thoughts I have had for awhile.

What does it mean to have an “encounter” with God? It might seem like an odd question. Here are the sorts of answers it might get.

To encounter God is:

-To have a sense that a particular sermon was intended by God particularly for you.
-To feel close to him in worship.
-To sense his leading by means of the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
-To hear him speak to you in an audible voice.
-To actually see him.

Which one of these falls under the definition of an “encounter”? Perhaps all of them? Or maybe just the last two?

I won’t try to answer that, but I will say this: that it seems today that many Christians appear to have excluded the last two on the list as a possibility and have settled for the “next best”, myself included. 

We strive to hear God’s voice, and when we don’t, we start to try to figure out different ways he might possibly be speaking to us, sometimes by signs or symbols.

But the scriptures don’t portray God that way. Whenever God wanted someone to know something, he either sent a prophet or said it himself. And that’s what I think heaven will be like. God will not have to do an elaborate act which we might eventually translate and be able to say, “Oh, I think God is telling me he loves me.” Rather, God will simply say, “I love you.”

So that’s my question: why should it be different now? Is God’s mouth closed or are our ears stopped?

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8 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Philosophy, Theology

 

8 responses to “What does it mean to “encounter” God?

  1. godexpects

    March 18, 2013 at 2:31 am

    An encounter with God – the answer is only found in the Scriptures – not just the Words but in the Acts of God that the Scriptures proclaim. Sam, trace through first in your search every encounter with God in the Scriptures and you will find your answer.
    Begin with Adam in Genesis Chapter 2 and an implied statement in Genesis 3:8 “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden”
    In particular the first part of this verse “…the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” It seems as if this was a norm with God – I imagine that Adam and Eve on many occasions encountered God as they walked in the cool of the day – walking side by side hearing HIS voice and HIM hearing them.
    Even when this relationship was damaged by the fall – they encountered God in the rest of chapter 3. Today I feel I encounter God as I walk day to day trusting in HIM – He speaks to me often through HIS Word, through others I encounter daily. I don’t always hear or listen and some days I don’t want to hear – but HE speaks. He speaks in nature – the Scriptures speak of nature itself declaring God and even there I find I can encounter God in mighty ways.

    For myself I find that I can get into trouble or out of sorts in my faith if I attempt to define those encounters as a verbal voice or visual encounter. Those types of encounters are rare even in Scripture this side of Heaven – once in glory we will “see HIM as HE is…”

    I do not believe that God hides from HIS children – HE makes HIMSELF plainly seen. Like when the disciple said to Jesus “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough” – this was before Jesus was “glorified” via HIS resurrection – and HE said “if you have seen ME you have seen…”

    We need to see Jesus in each other – not in the “new age” way – but “Christ in you the hope…”

    I could say a lot more but I have seen too many people go off in their faith by looking for an “encounter with God” when God can be “plainly seen” and encountered all around us. We just need to open our heart and and Hebrews chapter 11 says over and over “by faith…” by faith…” by faith…” until Jesus Comes again… even so come quickly…!

     
    • Sam

      March 18, 2013 at 4:57 am

      Interesting points! I think the point you made that it is “by faith” explains best why we do not see or hear God directly (for the most part at least; I know it happens for some). I will have to think about what you have said for awhile.

       
      • godexpects

        March 20, 2013 at 2:40 am

        You state “by faith” explains best why we do not see or hear God directly” – how else are we to hear God if it is not “by faith” – “without faith…” – anything related to God with out faith is not a good place to be.

         
  2. bethkilada

    March 18, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Would you include dreams as a “vehicle” of the last two, or could that be a third way God reveals himself to us?

     
    • Sam

      March 18, 2013 at 4:59 am

      I’m not sure Beth! I don’t know whether a dream would be considered the same as an “actual encounter”, whatever “actual encounter” means. Maybe that would have to do with the difference between a vision and a dream, if there is such a difference!

       
  3. Rachel

    March 18, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Samuel, good questions. Always good from you. Perhaps the answer to your questions lies in the fact that we do not have the faith of little children to simply relate to God in such a way that we could “walk and talk” with Him without being so complex in our relationship with Him. We’re demanding, and mostly, we doubt Him on everything. We don’t know how to simply take Him at His Word and believe Him. His Words says, “I love you,” and just reading those words should be enough, if we believe He really said them–to us, now, not to someone else somewhere else.

     
  4. Dan Wagner

    April 18, 2013 at 4:45 am

    Samuel here is another blog that speaks to what you are discussing you might find it interesting:
    http://tomsopwith.blogspot.com/2006/06/what-does-it-mean-to-encounter-god.html

     

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