Sometimes I wonder how people connected with God in the past. Don’t you?
I mean, what exactly did Eve talk to God about as they strolled through the garden?
When Hannah prayed for her son Samuel, did she have a scripted prayer she learned as a child? When she wasn’t at the temple praying, what did she do to connect with God at home?
How did Deborah hear God’s voice directing her as judge of the Israelites?
And did Mary have daily devotions before Gabriel told her she would bear the Son of God?
All interesting questions, and all the more reason for us to look in the past and learn from those who have walked with God before us.
As a side note, this post was over 2,000 words long. I decided to spare you the pain of reading all that and provided a simple summary below. You’re welcome. 🙂
What We Can Learn from Church History
What I want to offer with this brief overview of how people have dwelled with God throughout history is to contextualize how we understand dwelling with God. It has looked different for different people in different places at different points in history.
History teaches us that there is no single method to dwell with God. God meets people in a variety of ways. So we can shake off the expectations that abiding in Christ must look a certain way and learn from those who have gone before us:
- We learn from Adam and Eve to walk in joyful abandon in God’s presence, as well as guard against sin that can separate us from fellowship with God.
- We learn from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to listen carefully for God’s voice and to walk in obedience as we dwell with Him.
- We learn from Moses the soul-crushing burden of the Law and the all-important role of a blood sacrifice to make humans right with God, as well as the beautiful experiential knowledge we can have of God when we meet Him on the mountaintop.
- We can learn from the Israelites to celebrate joyfully and to cherish rituals that teach our souls to remember what God has done in the past so we remain faithful in the future.
- We learn from Jesus to embrace the beautiful work He completed to reconcile humans to God through His all-sufficient life, sacrifice, and resurrection.
- We learn from Jesus’s disciples to live with an acute awareness of the Spirit’s presence in our daily mundane living and the importance of getting together to fellowship.
- We learn from the early church to incorporate practices that give us spiritual rhythm and a well-worn path into communion with God
- We learn from the Reformers the wonderful privilege of opening the Bible for ourselves and mining the text for all its riches.
- We learn from the modern church the importance of discipline to create life-giving habits that nourish the soul as we dwell with God.
- We learn from postmodern believers to have theological and religious humility and admit we don’t know it all, and be open to learning from one another.
Day 4 Challenge: Today, write down a 2-3 sentence description about how you approach your connection with God. What rituals or routines do you include? Why do you do those things? Where did they come from historically? And are they really helpful in your relationship with God? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.
Father, thank you for Your faithfulness to us, your children, throughout history. You have revealed Yourself increasingly more and more to every generation, calling us to dwell with You. But most of all, thank you for Jesus and His loving sacrifice to break the barrier between You and us and usher us into Your presence. What a privilege it is to connect with You directly, no longer dependent on sacrifices or priests to mediate between us. Your Spirit is in me, and You’ve restored to us the ability to commune with You just as Adam and Eve did. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making a way. Help me to be faithful in seeking You with all my heart day in and day out.
This is the 4th post in the series, “Abiding in Christ–when reading the Bible isn’t an option.” Check out all the posts here.