ENCOUNTER – “meet as an adversary”

encounterlogoIs an ENCOUNTER with God adversarial?

If you look at the Latin root of the word encounter, you find two parts:  “in” and “contra” (against).  The root meaning is: “meet as an adversary.”

I’ve been studying the book of Isaiah for the last two months and when Isaiah encountered the Lord in chapter 6, it felt adversarial at first.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” v. 5

The same thing happened when Peter first saw the raw majesty of Jesus.  After looking at the miraculous catch a fish, Peter’s eyes must have moved to the giver of the great gift. When he looked at the majesty of Jesus, somehow Peter saw himself more clearly than he had ever seen himself before. . .

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Luke 5:8

When we really encounter the LORD, the first feeling can be adversarial.  He is holy and we are not.  We do not belong together.  We are ruined!

It’s probably a good idea for us to take a good hard look at our sinful nature again.  We live in a culture that declares that everybody is OK, and most of our sermons in our churches focus on the “tweaking” that is necessary for self-improvement.  The Bible paints a bit of a different picture regarding the danger of our sin. . .

Romans 5:10: For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Colossians 1:21: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

God’s enemies. . .alienated from God. . .to the religious folk who refused to accept Christ as the Messiah, Jesus said that their
father was not Abraham, it was the devil! 
(See John 8)

Thank God the storyline of ENCOUNTER doesn’t end in ruin!  Jesus didn’t respond to Peter like this when he commanded Him to leave:  “You are right! Get me out of this boat now, I’ve made a huge mistake with you. I will find another disciple ASAP!”  He did respond by saying “Follow me. . .I will make you. . .”  Glory!

And God did not leave Isaiah ruined. . .He instructed an angel to take a coal from the altar (stay posted for my next post on the precious coal) and made this promise:  “I will take away your guilt.”

Maybe our passion for ENCOUNTER has gotten a little too “buddy, buddy.”  He is not our butler and He is not some wallflower hoping that we will ask Him to dance.

He is high and lifted up, seated on a throne, and the train of His robe fills the temple!  If you ENCOUNTER Him, don’t be surprised if it feels like a seismic event (By the way, the origin of seismic means to shake the earth!)

The greatest news of all is that this earthshaking God wants to be ENCOUNTERED!

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

So let’s buckle up, put on our crash helmets and go for it.  He doesn’t want you to stay an adversary. He wants you to follow Him and let Him change you.  He has power to take away your guilt!  Double Glory!!


About Rich Stevenson

Rich is the Executive Director of The Malachi Network (www.malachinetwork.org), a ministry focused on making the name of the LORD great among the nations. This network serves young leaders in missions and church planting. Prior to his present ministry, Rich pastored in Southern New Jersey, planted a church in Wilmore, KY, established a network of churches, served as an adjunct professor at Asbury College and was a senior leader at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO as well as The International House of Prayer in Atlanta, GA. Rich is the author of two books: Secrets of the Spiritual Life—10 Lessons from the One Thing Passages (Baker Books, 2003) A Voice from Home—The Words You Long to Hear from Your Father (WaterBrook Press, 2005) He graduated from Asbury College in 1984 with a BA degree in Philosophy of Religion and Asbury Theological Seminary in 1987 with a Master of Divinity degree. In 2010, Rich received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Union Biblical Seminary in Yangon, Myanmar. Rich has been married to Tania since 1982 and they have been blessed by amazing children: Zachary and his wife Meghan, Jacob and his wife Lena, Jessica and Corrie Emma.
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