God is sovereign and supreme, yet He delights in making Himself available to His people in powerful and intimate ways. His delight is not in religious duties performed to curry favor with Him. To taste God’s intimate presence is not to be in a building going through motions of religious duty. To taste God’s intimate presence is to be humble and broken before Him and to obey His Word.
We can experience the intimate presence of the living God when we gather together in a building or when we are scattered throughout our cities. And we can miss the intimate presence of the living God when we gather in a building and when we are scattered throughout our cities. Our intimacy with God is not supremely settled because of our location. The key to our intimacy with God is supremely settled through a heart that is humble and obedient toward Him.
1. God makes His home in humble hearts.
God draws near to those who are humble and contrite. He sets His gaze upon those who see themselves properly in the light of God’s holiness.
“God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
The opposite of “humble and contrite” is proud. Pride is more than merely the first of seven deadly sins. It is the essence of all sins. God declares that He opposes those who are proud. We are proud when we look at the work of our hands or those things which bring us delight, but fail to set our focus on God’s glorious person and work. We are proud when we fail to confess that God is the reason for our life and the source of all that is good.
“In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was proud; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 32:24-25)
Pride is a reflection of a crooked soul. Rather than focusing on the glorious work of God, rather than reflecting on the grace of God’s rescuing love, rather than serving God, the heart of pride seeks to gain prominence over God’s rule in his life.
“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
The humble heart bows before God in absolute dependence. The humble heart seeks God’s glory, purpose, and desires above all else. The humble heart is broken over its rebellious moments. When we understand and live as one who is broken and in need of repair that only God in His grace can provide, then we are truly humble. This is the heart that God makes His home.
The pathway to humility begins with the gospel. It is the gospel of God’s glorious grace through Christ Jesus that shows us our sinfulness and God’s holiness. It is the gospel that declares our guilt and God’s just judgment. It is the gospel that provides our forgiveness through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. And it is the gospel that constantly reminds us of our need of God’s grace each day of our lives.
2. God makes His home in obedient hearts.
God makes His home in the heart of those who tremble at His Word. God is looking for men and women who humble themselves before Him and obey His Word.
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” (John 14:23)
To tremble at God’s Word is a picture of a heart that understands the severity and intensity of obedience to the One who has given us life. It is doing what God says, even when it’s not what we want. It is living our lives through the lens of Scripture.
The challenge that we face as followers of Christ is to think biblically. The reason this is challenging for us is that we have allowed so many other things to determine how we live, what we believe, and how we feel. But followers of Christ must constantly renew our minds and lives according to God’s Word. If we are to live faithfully, then we must think biblically.
Humble and obedient hearts invite God’s favor. What makes the church glorious is not our buildings, programs, innovation, or style. What makes the church glorious is a congregation of tremblers, humble and broken, before the One who sovereignly and supremely rules over heaven and earth.