Monday, September 13, 2010

Nearness: Proximity or closeness?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8.

Nearness in the sense of proximity can be delightful or suffocating. For lovers, even bodies touching might not seem near enough. In a crowded bus, train or elevator, we could wish a clothespin on our noses is as fashionable as rings or studs.

God’s omnipresence means that He is always nearer than the breeze on our cheeks; intimidating for some and comforting to others. But that is a static nearness; He is always there, irrespective of our attitude or condition, whether we like it or not.

So it is obvious that this text, encouraging us to come near to God, is referring to something other than simple proximity. We can experience closeness even when far apart. Although our immediate family is scattered around the world, we are still a close-knit family.

In a similar way, God is as far removed from our understanding as a queen is from a fish. If our lack of knowing God separates us from Him, how can we become close with Him, with that sense of companionship so desired between humans?

God has bridged the gap by becoming one of us and revealing God in human terms. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9. Furthermore, He has given us his written Word, the Bible, in human language, expressing Himself to us.

The obvious way to come close to God is the way we turn any acquaintance into a companion: by communication. He speaks to us through His Word, we speak to Him in prayer. That is, providing the communication isn’t distorted by sin, distrust or boredom.

But we need to match that by loving our neighbour; after all, how we love our neighbour is a reflection of how we love God. Every “cup of water,” given in compassion rather than for gain, is given to Christ. Being close to Him is being close to those in need, for it is there we will find Him.

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