The greatest event in human history is the incarnation of Jesus – God became human. This is the event that differentiates Christianity from all other religions. Because all religions teach that man has to reach out to god (or other equivalents) by self-effort, whereas Christianity teaches that God reached out to man because man is helpless to do so. This “immanence” of God (God is present) is unique to Christianity.
So when we come to worship “that” God on Sunday, we ought to enjoy the “intimacy” that we have with Him, through Jesus Christ. We are able to connect with him as our friend, comforter and helper. This must happen during worship, otherwise, everything we do become a mere religious activity.
Having said that, we also need to be aware that there is another side of God. Not only he is a loving Father but also the King. Jesus is not only our savior, but also Lord. In other words, God is not only “immanent” but “transcendent”. His wisdom is beyond ours. His plans and thoughts are beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations. If we only emphasize the immanence of God, we lose the sight of this transcendence.
So far it has been believed that traditional churches emphasize transcendance of God and modern churches emphasize immanence of God. But according to the recent trend discovered by church leaders, even the attractional churches (or seeker sensitive) are moving in the direction of helping worshippers experience the “transcendence” of God. In this age where sermons and worship songs can be easily accessed online, people look for something “out of this world” type of experience in corporate worship on Sunday.
How can we experience more of God’s transcendence? It is pretty simple. Keep on asking this one question throughout the service: “God, what are you telling me to do?” Our willingness to “do” what God says reveals our view of him. With friends, we think about what to “say”, in order to enjoy friendship. But when we are with our boss, we think about what we need to “do” according to what he says.
This type of “tension” is uncomfortable for many. The temptation is to choose one or the other to erase the tension. But we need to embrace the tension. Here is why. If we choose one or the other, we will end up with God who is not fully himself. Either we have God who is too friendly to command anything to us or God who is too distant to approach near. But if we choose to embrace this tension, we can experience “both” the loving presence of God that comforts us and the power of his word that can change us. It will prevent our walk with God becoming too casual nor too rigid.