ODJ: Our Real and Present God

April 15, 2017 

READ: John 14:8-17 

The Father . . . will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you (v.16).

In 2005 two researchers coined “moral therapeutic deism” (MTD) as a description for the prevailing religious views of younger Americans. MTD is a constellation of beliefs that can be summed up this way: God exists and provides a moral way of ordering your life so that you can fulfil the ultimate goal of your life—to be happy and feel good about yourself. Although God is mostly removed and uninvolved in your life, He will welcome you to heaven when you die if you’ve been good.

Unfortunately, MTD describes many people’s religious views, not only the younger generation’s. While we may balk at some of the assertions above, practically speaking, many of us grapple with the idea that God is actively present in our lives. Perhaps we’ve prayed desperately for the healing of someone we love, only to find ourselves weeping at a grave. Perhaps we’ve asked God to change a relationship or provide a Job or bring justice to the oppressed—only to have loneliness, unemployment or injustice threaten to overwhelm us in the end.

Scripture promises us, however, that God is near and that He is active in our lives. He’s never far away; He surrounds us. Before Jesus ascended to the Father, He told His bewildered, fearful disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit who would never leave them (vv.16-17). The Spirit would continue to lead them “into all truth”, the same truth that Jesus brought to us and that He announced on the cross and in His resurrection (v.17).

Whatever our experiences—including at times being disappointed or troubled by our inability to understand God’s actions or silence—we have Jesus’ promise that His Spirit is here. God is a very real and present God.

—Winn Collier

365-day plan: 1 Kings 6:1-38

Read Acts 2:1-21. What strikes you about this story of the arrival of God’s Spirit? 
When have you grappled with questions about God’s nearness and presence? Reflect over the past year or two of your life and identify where you see signs of God’s presence with you. How does this encourage you today?