“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
– Philippians 3:8-11
On today, we are going to be short and brief as we discuss the difference between an encounter with God versus an experience with God. The two are often referred to as one in the same, yet I have come to find out that they are in fact different. Yes, my friend, there is a difference, and I would venture as far as to say that a lot of us don’t really have experiences with God, but we have encounters. Now, before you get all right, twisted, and upset allow me to briefly explain the difference between the two. The definition of an encounter is a casual, relaxed, and/or unexpected meeting with something or someone. This is the type of thing that happens by chance. On the other hand, an experience is the direct observation or participation in events that form the basis of knowledge relating to said thing. In other words, you didn’t just so happen to come by this information or knowledge but it was learned as a result of my personal interaction with the subject matter, thereby granting me an experience.
I know some of us are still struggling to understand the difference so let me diss out the example real quick. Have you ever been in a church setting and you see people worshiping deeply and passionately to the poi t of tears flowing down their face, hands highly raised, their lips are flowing with praise, and if the right fire is provided their feet will take off into a race. Nobody has to instruct these people. Nobody has to pump, push, or motivate these people. Nobody even has to make them aware of what’s going on. Why? They already know who has stepped in, hovered above, dropped into, and is dwelling in the midst of the service. They know the Spirit of God has touched down, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. This group is able to recognize and come boldly before the throne of grace asking, “What must I do Lord? What do you desire of me? What is your will for me?” Then, there’s the other group. You know, the group that’s not sure what is going on. The group that came spectating, instigating, investigating, yet their spirit is slowly deteriorating and waiting for something invigorating to come along so that they may start participating. Don’t get offended if you’re in this group, because believe it or not we all were once upon a time. The difference is some desired more, craved more, and hungered for more, so they went after more. Meanwhile, the others simply were seemingly satisfied at their current level.
So, now we arrive at the point of “How do I get more or get an experience?” The simple answer is a familiar phrase; “trial by fire.” What does this look like? When God gets ready to grant someone’s heart’s desire for an experience with Him, He allows all sorts of afflictions to come upon you. Why? It’s all to teach you and learn you of exactly who He is. Anybody can claim that they know who God is however the slightest sign of persecution will detour and alter their monthly confirming his identity. That’s why he allowed you to be like at home cheated on treated wrong and stepped on. It wasn’t to break you to the point where you give up on him, but it was to break you in so that you could have total confidence in his ability, his identity, his responsibility, and his overall capability. You see, when you become a child of God you are no longer you own, but His. You’re His child and He’s your father. He’s the ship and you’re the precious cargo. The responsibility of the greater one is to look after, take care of, ensure the safety and overall well-being of the lessor one. That’s why he tells us to leave room for the wrath of God for vengeance shall be His. However, if He didn’t allow these things to come upon you, then you wouldn’t know that He is who He says He is.
Oh, I feel a push from deep within me telling me to drive this thing a little bit. Had you not gotten thrown in the fire, you wouldn’t know that He covers you. If it weren’t for the fiery darts coming at you, you wouldn’t believe that He is able to shield you. Were it not for the storm that came into your life, you wouldn’t know Him as the calm in the midst of the storm. The sickness didn’t come to take you out, but it was to make you confident in knowing that He is a healer. The lack didn’t come to deplete you, but it was to teach you that He is your provider. He allowed the walls to feel as if they were closing in, not to suffocate you but to show you that He is the way maker. All the noise going on around you feels as if it’s going to drive you crazy, but look again. It ain’t so (I know I know I know but go with it)! It’s to demonstrate that He is the supplier of peace. He allowed you to be uprooted from everything familiar so that you could see that He is more than enough and more than capable of being your everything. I
Now, we have a world full of people who have had encounters with Jesus, but they have never experienced him for themselves. Can I be brutally honest for a moment? That’s why people are not racing to the church house like they used to. That’s why people are not being saved, filled, healed, delivered, and set free like they used to. That’s why people are not trusting the leadership of the church like they used to. We too busy trying to teach them how to get what they want from Jesus, instead of teaching them how to get what they need from him. I know some people ain’t going to like me for this, but it the truth and needs to be said. We are too busy encouraging encounters rather than experiences. I’m reminded of a song that my grandmother used to sing: “I just can’t give up now. I’ve come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy, but I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.” This song basically was saying the road may get hard, bumpy, rough, and take you through many twists and turns, but stay the course. Why? If He brought me this far, then I believe He will take me all the way! Guess what? When you come out of it, you will have something that nobody can take from you. What’s that? An Experience! Once you have this no doctrine, theology, wickedness, perversion, or witchcraft can make you loose sight of just who God and Jesus is.
As I close, I just have one question: What are you desiring or wanting: An Encounter or Experience!