“If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” Exodus 33:15
Moses had a clear understanding of the need for the Presence of God on the journeys he was leading. At times in the story of the Israelites in the desert, that awareness needed to be restored and the pursuit of God’s presence refocused on. This is not new. History gives us varying pictures of how humanity’s desire for connection with God has manifested. Martin Luther’s reforms introduced the ‘priesthood of all believers’ and led to congregational participation in the singing of hymns, which had previously been dominated by priests and choirs who were not singing in the congregation’s native language. Partnerships between preachers and hymn writers have not been unusual – Moody & Sankey and John & Charles Wesley are just two examples. From the 1960s, we have seen the introduction of more contemporary praise and worship songs being written and sung, and in the present day, there are some places where the time spent in worship may equal or even exceed the time spent on preaching. The ‘moves’ of God of the Jesus People, Vineyard, Toronto, Pensacola, Hillsong & Bethel have all partnered ministry with music.
This does not mean that previous ‘moves’ of God did not value the presence of God, but to fail to acknowledge what is happening today would be equally incorrect. So what is different?
Songs and hymns carry words which we are more likely to remember than the preaching but this season is much more than just partnering songs with preaching. We have always been called to ‘go’ but this apostolic sending culture is teaching us to see that not only have we been sent, but as we are sent we need to say that “God, if [Your] presence does not go with us, don’t send us.” The apostolic desire to bring Heaven to Earth requires us to know the experience of His Presence in every scenario, circumstance and emotion of life.
We are quite simply being trained in the Presence for the assignment of bringing Heaven to Earth and expanding the influence of King Jesus wherever we go, whatever we do and whoever we are.