For people to walk together in the same spirituality is no small thing. Even more so is to have the spirituality marked with the character and intent of Jesus.
While I do believe in the formal expression of church, Jesus made himself available in less formal circumstances. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
One would think that with such simplicity that fallen people that experience the presence of God would discern what the character and intent of Jesus is and how to build it in his followers.
One way to get at some principles of who Jesus is and how he works in individuals and fellowship through his presence is to look at what I call “micro-church”. This is Jesus being manifest in his will with the least moving parts of humanity possible. The anecdotes I look at I believe to applicable since, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). These examples would include people that are not necessarily apostle, could be only a few or if more than a few would have a less formal context to the common eyes and ears.
But if one was a Jew in the time of Jesus, they would interpret the presence of God by a few historical points of reference on the nature and intent of the divine presence.
Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live. (Exodus 33:10-20).
Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. —-Then and now the tying point for what makes a meeting of God is that His name is invoked and there is the presence of the Holy Spirit. We know in retrospect that the Holy Spirit is present where Jesus’s presence is because they defer to one another on earth and in eternity.
The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.—- In some way that is a universal wish of anyone in this world even if their intellect does not know it. But what we see here is in a way a play on words in that God’s face and God’s presence in the Old Testament and the inter testament mishnas make these terms interchangable. This is good to keep in mind because in the gospel of John we see how “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.— That should be the heart of our approach to God whether it is one, three or a full congregation. To be teachable is essential. In the words of the wise priest from Rudy, “There is a God. And I am not him”. We can be assured that God will teach us what we need when we need it if we do not harden our hearts and get in the way of the process.
I will do the very thing you have asked, [going down with Israel with his presence] because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.
So here we have a simple “formula”, gathering in God’s name, having humility and expressing a need for the distibuishing characteristic of God’s presence makes it a fellowship in the Holy Spirit.
…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live— One may see this as a contradiction if Jesus does not change and he is God. But humanity does change in the context of salvation history. And God can change the layout because He is merciful that way. But yet it is true for today, if you behold Jesus for who He is and receive Him fully, you will die in all the right ways and live in all the better ways.
Ready to jump in? It is a dangerous ride. That you could lose everything is the least of “logical” warnings. Now that this is established, what is stopping you?