If I asked you if God was omnipresent (meaning God is present everywhere at the same time) you would likely say yes. This is common Orthodox Christianity. But the reality is we all struggle to practice that truth in the day to day. We believe it in our heads but find it difficult to adopt it in a way that changes our behavior. As A.W. Tozer put it,
“Our formal creed is sound; the breakdown is in our working creed!”
Think about it: if Jesus was physically with you 24/7, would you live differently than you do now? If the answer to that question is yes, then you and I are in the same boat. Believing in the omnipresence of God will change the way we live, but the greatest obstacles to that life change are unbelief and forgetfulness.
The Biblical Pursuit and Practice called Godliness
We learn from the Apostle Peter that we are called to “make every effort” to build up and supplement our faith by working to implement particular attributes in our lives. One of those attributes is godliness.1 A basic working definition of godliness is
“devotion to and regard for God in thought and action.”
Notice that this definition isn’t simply describing a static emotion or feeling. It isn’t just about a spiritual mindset. It isn’t about a particular time in the day or week that we meet with God and call “devotions” or “quiet time.” It’s not just an activity that we can do and check off a list in order to be pious.
We’re talking about a heart attitude of mindful devotion to God that leads to a life lived considering Him in all things.
To help us better understand the concept of godliness, living a life that is mindful of God, let’s consider ungodliness for a moment. Ungodliness is impiety or godlessness and disregard in both thought and action. It’s living without devotion to, or pursuit of God, without desire for God and without fear of God. It’s living life without consideration or thought of God.
In simple modern terms, it’s atheism. The unfortunate actuality is many professing believers live this way and we have all been guilty of it at some point. It’s what Pastor Craig Groeschel calls,
“The Christian Atheist ~ believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.”
In the same way that ungodliness is thinking nothing of God, godliness is thinking much of God.
It’s burning with a desire and passion to know God, increasing in devotion to and the pursuit of Him, and coming to love and fear Him more and more as you gaze upon His holy and righteous character and nature through the pages of Scripture and the beauty of His creation.
The natural human bent is thoughtlessness and disregard toward God, and it must be renounced and put off so that the beautiful practice of thoughtfulness and regard for God in all things may be adopted into our lives. This is the practice of living Coram Deo.
Coram Deo is the Latin phrase the Reformers used to capture the vital discipline of being mindful of the omnipresence of God. Coram Deo means “before the face of God.” This idea of being before the face of God simply articulated for to them and reminded them that “all of life is lived in the presence of God, under the ultimate authority of God, and to the glory of God alone.”
Mindfulness of the reality of God’s presence and that He is always there, always listening, always with us, always helping us, and always watching over us is so foundational to our understanding of the Christianity that it is said to “sum up the essence of the Christian life.”2
Just as the Reformers did, we too must embrace this same truth and practice into our own lives. He is omnipresent and there is nothing in our lives that is not under His sovereign gaze and care. Are you living like you believe that with all your heart?
My challenge for all of us is to embrace the discipline of Coram Deo and live with a greater mindfulness of God’s presence in all things.
The Spiritual Benefits of Practicing Coram Deo
Practicing Coram Deo on a daily basis will…
- enable you to remember that God knows you personally, loves you deeply and cares for you individually
- enable you to remember that He also knows your every thought and action both good and bad, especially what’s done in secret, yet He has loved you anyway and has given you an eternal place in His Kingdom
- enable you to fear Him because you know that His fatherly discipline comes about when we continue to walk in willful sin
- enable you to love people because you know the heart of God for those you interact with and invest in
- enable you to be killing sin and living a holy, upright and godly life filled with character and integrity because you know He is present in every circumstance
- enable you to be comforted and joyful even in difficulty and suffering because you know that you are not alone and that He has also experienced great pain and suffering
- enable us to be humble because we know that He is our God who saves us and that we are not our own god and cannot save ourselves
- enable you to live an empowered life as you lead your own heart, your family, your friends and others to increase in love and obedience to Jesus
This list is not exhaustive but hopefully it gives a glimpse into how believing and practicing the truth will set us free and empower us to change.
- 2 Peter 2:3-11 ESV
- R.C. Sproul
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