Nearness is Likeness   Leave a comment

NEARNESS IS LIKENESS

One staid and often distressing problem for many Christians is their feeling that God is far from them, or that they are far from God, which of course is the same thing.
It is hard to rejoice in the lord when we are suffering from this sense of remoteness. It is like trying to have warm, bright summers without the sun. Chiefly, the trouble here is of course not intellectual and cannot be cured by intellectual means; yet truth must enter the mind before it enters the heart, so let us reason about this. In spiritual matters we think correctly only when we boldly obliterate the concept of space. God is spirit, and spirit dwells not in space. Space has to do with matter and spirit is independent of it. By the concept of space we account for the relation of material bodies to each other.
We should never think God as being spatially remote or near, for he is not here or there but carries here and there in his heart. Space is not infinite, as some have conceived; only God is infinite and in his infinitude He swallows up all space. “Do not I fill heaven and earth saith the lord.” He fills heaven and earth as the ocean fills the bucket that is submerged in it, as the ocean surrounds the bucket so does God the universe He fills. “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” God is contained: He contains.
As earthly born creatures we naturally tend to think by earth analogies. He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth.” God created us living souls and gave us bodies through which we can experience the world around us and communicate with one another. When man fell through sin he began to think of himself as having a soul instead of being one. It makes a lot of difference whether a man believes that he is a body having a soul or a soul having a body.
The soul is inward and hidden, while the body is always present to the senses; consequently we tend to be body conscious, and the concept of near and remote, which attaches to material things, seems quite natural to us. But it is valid only when it applies to moral creatures. When we try to apply it to God it no longer retains it validity.
Yet when we speak of men being distant from God we are not far from the truth. The Lord said of Israel, “their heart is far from me,” and there we have the definition of far and near in our relation to God. The words refer not to physical distance, but to likeness.
That God is equally near to all parts of his universe is plainly taught in the scriptures, yet some beings experience his nearness and others do not, depending upon their moral likeness to him. It is dissimilarity that creates the sense or remoteness between creatures and between men and God.
Two creatures might be so close that they touch, yet because of dissimilarity of nature be millions of miles apart. An angel and an ape might conceivably be in the same room but their difference in nature would make communion impossible. They would be far from each other in fact.
For the moral unlikeness between man and God the bible has a word, alienation, and the Holy Spirit presents a frightful picture of this alienation as it works itself out in human character. Fallen human nature is precisely opposite to the nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Because there is no moral likeness there is no communion, hence the sense of physical distance, the feeling that God is far away in space. This erroneous notion discourages prayer and prevents many a sinner from believing unto life.
Paul encouraged the Athenians by reminding them that God was not far from any one of them, that it was He in whom they lived and moved and had their being. Yet men think of him as farther away than the farthest star. The truth is that he is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.

But how can the conscious sinner bridge the mighty gulf that separates him from God in living experience? The answer is that he cannot, but the glory of the Christian message is that Christ did. Through the blood of his cross he made peace that he might reconcile all things to himself. “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”( Col. 1:21, 22).The new birth makes us partakers of the divine nature. There the work of undoing the dissimilarity between us and God begins. From there it progresses by the sanctifying operation of the Holy Spirit till God is satisfied.
That is the theology of it, but as I said, even the regenerated soul may sometimes suffer from the feeling that God is far from him. What then should he do?
First, the trouble may be no more than a temporary break in God conscious communion due to any one of half a hundred causes. The cure is faith. Trust God in the dark till the light returns.
Second, should the sense of remoteness persist in spite of prayer and what you believe is faith, look to your inner life for evidences of wrong attitudes, evil thoughts or dispositional flaws. These are unlike God and create a psychological gulf between you and him. Put away the evil from you, believe, and the sense of nearness will be restored God was never away in the first place.

By Olalekan Omodunbi Daniels

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Posted January 28, 2012 by lekanomodunbi in Uncategorized

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