What does it mean to “encounter” God?
The word “encounter” means, “to meet face to face.” Therefore, we desire that our students would not just grow in the intellectual knowledge of God, but would have radical encounters and experiences with God. We want these experiences, these face to face encounters, not just study, to shape their understanding of who He is. We know that experiences shape our core beliefs much more than an intellectual idea, even perfectly conveyed, ever will.
God wants to personally introduce himself to us so that we can know him, not just know about him. In fact, His desire for his creation to meet him face to face has been written for us to see throughout the Bible. He has spoken it loud through His Word again and again.
God’s Plan For Nearness
In Genesis, we see God breathe life into man. I would like to suggest that God did not just blow some mighty gust of breath from the sky that eventually made its way down into Adam’s lungs. Rather, God got down into the dirt which He used to form Adam and put his face to the one He had just crafted. Right there, nose to nose, He breathed. The breath that brought Adam to life was given during a face to face encounter with His Father.
Even before man sinned and caused separation, God had a plan to restore nearness. Jesus, the incarnate God with whom man would speak face to face, was already in place to close the gap. But God didn’t remain distant until that moment of restoration. He didn’t want to wait. He looked for someone who would seek Him, someone with whom He could speak. And so God would speak with Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend (Exodus 33:7-11).
Our God has always had the intention of nearness. He shows us from the beginning in the garden, through the old testament with Moses in the tent of meeting, throughout the life of Emmanuel, to the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Face to face is His goal.
Encountering All That God Is
Encountering God is coming face to face with Love.
Song of Songs 2:10 says, “The one I love [ The Bridegroom-King ] calls to me: Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling. Come away with me! I have come as you have asked to draw you to my heart and lead you out.” Then, Song of Songs 3:4 says,“Just as I moved past them, I encountered him. I found the one I adore! I caught him and fastened myself to him, refusing to be feeble in my heart again.” His love creates in us a desire for intimacy; desire for nearness which gives us strength!
Encountering God means coming face to face with the Healer.
Matthew 12:10 says, “He [Jesus] encountered a man who had an atrophied, paralyzed hand. Then he turned to the man and said, “Hold out your hand!” And as he stretched it out, it was restored, exactly like the other.” Jesus consistently met the needs of those who he encountered as he traveled. A face to face encounter with God means putting yourself within direct reach of the hands that healed lepers, smeared mud on blind eyes, and lifted the lame to their feet.
Encountering God is coming face to face with Truth and Identity.
It says in Acts 1:3, “After the sufferings of his cross, Jesus appeared alive many times to these same apostles over a forty-day period. Jesus proved to them with many convincing signs that he had been resurrected. During these encounters, he taught them the truths of God’s kingdom realm.” Jesus wants to show us that He is alive by letting us encounter Him! And when we are in these encounters, He instills in us truth and teaches us who we are.
God’s Invitation To Us
The God of love, healing, power, truth, and life, is waiting to encounter us – to draw us to His heart as we ask. Encountering God means coming face to face with the greatest friend we could ever imagine, if only we’ll seek Him. This is what we want our students to experience. We have designed our school to provide opportunities for face to face encounters with the God of creation. We know that this is how real world changers are raised up.
When we seek God, we will never be rejected or turned away. He longs to embrace us and reveal Himself through intimate relationship. Everything our hearts could long for is found in His love as we cling to the One we adore. Through these encounters we truly come to know God, and only out of these encounters we can make Him known.