Have you ever heard someone pray to get closer to God? Sometimes we hear people say in our discipleship counseling session that they believe getting closer to God will help them overcome their depression, marriage, sin habits, etc. In all these instances, we understand what they are really saying is, they want a more intimate, dynamic relationship with God. However, if we are God’s children, we are starting our quest with an incorrect assumption that there are things we can do to get closer to God.
This assumption has a “Yes” and “No” answer. There are Scriptures that have good news for every person. God wants us to be close to him but it’s better than we might think. Look at these encouraging Scriptures. “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8) “(For the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19) “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…” (Hebrew 10:22) In each of these, the promise being touted is that every person who places their faith in Jesus Christ alone, not the 10 Commandments, not good works, not a ritual, WILL get close to God!
This closeness is better than we can imagine because it means we are close to God because we are united with God. In other words, once we are saved (completely forgiven by God and made righteous by him), Christ is in us and we are in him! Think about it for a moment. If Christ is in you, can you get any closer to him? If you are in Christ, can you get any closer to him? So, the “Yes” to the query as to whether we need to get closer to God is true for every person who does not have Christ in them. Romans 10:9-10 says it so beautifully, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ for your salvation? If not, do it right now by telling him you do. If you have, you are close to God, as close as you will ever be! If not, you are very far from God but he wants to be close to you.
After I taught on this not too long ago, a man named Jasper, a very big man, welled up with tears. When I asked him why he was so touched by this, he replied, “It’s so freeing because I no longer feel pressure to do something so I can get closer to God.” A lady named Shaquita responded to this teaching by saying, “I’ve never heard this before. I know the Bible very well and have heard some great teachers over the past three decades, but no one has ever said this.” Her face literally relaxed in front of my eyes.
Do you think God the Father answered all of Jesus’s prayers with a “Yes”? Of course, he did. Did you know that Jesus prayed that you and I would be close to God? Look at part of the prayer he prayed just before he died on the cross. It’s recorded in John 17:20-21. “My prayer is not for them (his disciples at the time) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Parenthesis are mine for clarity.) Isn’t that cool? We who believe, are in Jesus and in the Father. Other Scriptures tell us we are in the Holy Spirit. The entire Trinity is in us and we are in the entire Trinity! We are united with God in our new creation spirit! As believers, we don’t need to try to get any closer to God. We are as close as we will ever be.
Obedience to God is very important but it will not get us closer to him. Sinning is not what God wants us to do but it will not take us far away from God. We may struggle with believing this because we don’t always feel close to God but our feelings of closeness to God come and go. I’ve personally found, that talking to God, reading the Bible, and remembering I’m as close to God as I will ever be, sometimes help me feel that closeness, but not always. Sometimes, I “feel” like he’s a million miles away, but he’s not. So, this is the “No” that we don’t need to try to get closer to God once he’s in us. We need to believe it and live from that closeness.
What joy! What freedom! What grace! What intimacy! Thank you, Father that we are as close to you as we will ever be, right now! (Based on my book, "God's Best-Kept Secret" on Amazon