Eliminating the Distance

How much do you enjoy being with your children? For me, to play with my two boys, read them stories, give them a hug, tell them how much I love them or teach them how to live and make decisions are some of the most enjoyable and rewarding moments I can spend each week. I know how much I want us to have a strong relationship as they grow into young men. While they might live far from me one day, I don?t ever want our relationship to be distant or strained. Could our desire to be close to our children be a slight glimpse into how much God loves us and longs to be in fellowship with us?

God Wants to be Close to You

If the words of 1 John are allowed to sink deep into our hearts and permeate our understanding, can they not cause a tear to well up? Love is not the result of us drawing near to God, rather through his Son, God has taken the initiative and has ensured our path home.1 Can we really fathom how much God loves us and wants to be in fellowship with us?

Although we see God?s love most clearly through his giving of Jesus for us, this is nothing new. As you read the Old Testament, can you hear God?s longing to be close to his people?

• I will make my dwelling place among you, and my soul will not reject you. ‘I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.? Leviticus 26:11-12

•I will betroth you to me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, In love and in compassion, And I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.? Hosea 2:19-20

God Makes Closeness Possible

In order for God to dwell in the midst of his people and walk among them, they must be a holy people.2 This creates a huge problem since people are not holy nor are they capable of making themselves holy. However, through his grace God has eliminated the distance. God has acted to take people for himself and to make them holy.

One of the clear messages in the Old Testament is that God was responsible for making his people holy.3 Similarly, by giving Jesus as a sacrifice for us, once again it is God who has made it possible for us to be holy.

• … we have been made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.? Hebrews 10:10

• For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being made holy.? Hebrews 10:14

How Close to God Do You Feel?

If you are in Christ, God has brought you close to him. So how is your relationship with God these days? Is it anything like the words of this hymn? “And He walks with me and He talks with me; and He tells me I am his own. And the joy we share as we tarry there; None other has ever known.

Do you ever sing words like this wondering what it would be like to feel such a relationship with God? Don?t fret and worry, TAKE ACTION. Do what James 4:8 prescribes, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” You can be sure that God has done and will continue to do his part. We need to be make sure that we are drawing close to God. Here are some practical actions we can take.

1) Belong to God
God has provided the path to belong to him and be in fellowship and at peace with him. This path is through Jesus Christ. If you have not yet relied upon Jesus but you do believe he is the Son of God, then trust in him today. Obey the gospel by being buried with Christ in baptism in order that you might trust in Jesus and his blood to redeem you.

2) Live a holy life
While God has made our relationship with him possible, he has also always called upon his people to preserve this wonderful relationship by living with holiness instead of being conformed to the sinful ways of the world.4 Just as Adam and Eve after having sinned did not feel close to God and even attempted to hide from God?s presence, so too continuing in sin can cause us to avoid drawing near to God. Repent of whatever sins might be dragging you down and go to God in prayer confessing them. Ask him to use you as his tool for greater service in his kingdom. God is faithful! God loves you!

3) Make time to communicate with God
Turn off the noise of entertainment and the never-ending distractions which consume time and tune into the Lord. Read his word everyday. Listen to his message. Spend time pouring out your heart, struggles, fears, appreciation, praise and love to him.

If you will draw near to God, scripture promises that God will draw near to you. After all, it was God who took the initiative (because of his love for you) to make this closeness possible.

1) 1 John 4:10; John 3:16
2) Deuteronomy 23:14; Leviticus 11:45; 15:31; 20:1-3; 1 Peter 1:15-16
3) Leviticus 20:8; 22:32
4) Leviticus 18:30-19:1; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 12:2

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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