Summary. This short article discusses what company is possible between human beings and God, and contains some initial thought on how to live these insights out.
Company with God: as intended by God for this world, not as according to human’s intuitive ideal conception
When this world was just finished, new and perfect, and everything else was good, God found something that was still not good: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18 WEB). So right from the beginning men couldn’t have company with God in a way that would fully satisfy him. Men need other people (… here, a woman). Each human being having the company with God that is possible in this world but having not the company with other people is alone!
This means for today: human beings need “more” than even the full company with God in this world. Company with God lacks the many, permanent concrete experiences possible in inter-human relationships. Inter-human relationships are a surrogate to fill up what’s missing in the company between God and men. They’re thought to “materialize”, to “flesh out” how the company with God is meant but not yet experiencable.
This is important to see: God did not create this world with so little immediate encounters with Him because he would be unwillingly to allow this to his creatures. On the contrary: he intends humans in this world to resemble him, and their relationships to resemble his love. This is a near-closed system where we learn about God from the images of God (cf. other examples beyond “company”: God our father, being child, loving each other etc.). And in the other direction, where God says that we should love him he means “love your neighbor” to be the equivalent: “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (I John 4:12) and “Most certainly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these mybrothers, you did itto me.” (Mt 25:40).
So Christians should not expect their company with God to develop towards a more and more concrete, immediate, permanent company. Instead, to experience concrete permanent company they should focus on their fellow Christians who “represent” God in this world.
Now, this is not meant to say that Christians will never have immediate encounters with God as a person. These happen, indeed. But one cannot find them, one can just be open to them and be hit by them when God seems it fit. Which is on rare but weighty, most important occasions.
The new testament testimony is a further indicator for the rareness of immediate, personal encounters with God. These things did happen (miracles, answers to prayer, prophecies etc.) but no NT character is reported to have had a permanent personal encounter with God, face-to-face discussions so to speak. Even Paul needed to be corrected by the Holy Spirit several times in his travelling plans … something that couldn’t have happened if Paul had the permanent immediate company with God.
How to live without the permanent immediate company with God
Here are some hints:
- Be open for immediate encounters with God, but be not desperate that your everyday life lacks them. For example, look at how the “Mobile Freak Gemeinde” lives (http://www.mfg-home.de, German).
- Search company with God’s people and a meaningful life task to fill the space where you lack immediate company with God. Until heaven, company with God is incomplete (I John 3:2) and you need something interesting to do until then. For example: “hanging around without agenda” with friends, a world tour, a meaningful job that is to the good of others.
- Practical Christian living is not so much about two-hour personal discussions with God Almighty but about a holy life and doing good.
- View the NT reports of miracles and visions of collections of the remarkable highlights of the Christian’s experience with God. It’s far from representative for everyday life!
And now some tips how experience your immediate encounters with God to the full:
- Track your prayer requests and God’s answers, perhaps in your diary or by audio recording on your mobile phone or notebook.
- Pray for the gift of prophecy: “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” (I Cor 14:1). But keep in mind that you cannot force God to give this gift to you, just pray and then wait. You also do not need to fulfill special prerequisites to receive this gift … it depends on your God!
- Let your fellow Christians in your congregation serve you with the gift of prophecy.