How Can We Be Close to God?July 28, 2016
Just like an eagle was created to soar in the sky and just like a fish was created to swim in the ocean, we were created to enjoy closeness to God and live as continual worshippers of God. The Christian life is all about experiencing that close communion with God.
And in order to experience close communion with God, we have to understand something of who he is. In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter commands us, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And in Colossians 1:10, Paul prays that the Colossians would be continually “increasing in the knowledge of God.”
After all, can you really be close to someone if you don’t know anything about them? Let’s say I told you, “Hey, me and my boy Ben over there—we’re close.” And you said to me, “Hey, that’s great, because I was thinking of getting him something for his birthday. What kind of stuff does he like?” And I told you, “I’m not really sure what he likes.” So you ask, “Well, what activities does he do for fun?”And I said, “You know, I really don’t know much about what he likes or what he does.” So you ask, “Can you tell me anything about him?” And I’m like, “I can tell you that his name’s Ben.”
From that conversation, you’re probably going to conclude that Ben and I aren’t really as close to each other as I first claimed. I don’t really know him the way I said I did. I pretty much just knew his name.
Is that how it is between you and God—where you know God’s name but that’s pretty much all you know? Hopefully not.
As we’ve seen, both Peter and Paul tell us that we need to be growing in our knowledge of God—growing in our understanding of who God actually is. And the way we do that is by rolling up our sleeves and reading the Bible on our own on a regular basis. It’s in the pages of the Bible that God reveals himself.
And sometimes, we’ll read in the Bible direct statements about who God is. It will say things like, “God is loving,” “God is holy,” “God is faithful,” or “God is powerful.” So it’s good to take those to heart. But many times—actually the majority of the time—we learn about who God is by reading about what he does.
You see, the Bible is really one big story. It’s a story that encompasses everything, from God creating the world, to humanity rebelling against God, to God working progressively to redeem and rescue the world from its fallen and sinful state. That’s the plot.
And as you can tell, the main character of the story is God. He’s is the main character—the hero—of the biblical story. So throughout the story, we can observe different truths about who God is as we see him acting and interacting with his creation.
We see God’s power in speaking this world into existence out of nothing. We see his holiness as he expels Adam and Eve from the garden when they rebel against him. We see God’s sovereignty as he chooses to establish a special covenant relationship with Abraham. We see God’s mercy and patience with Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites, even though they turn away from him again and again.
But do you know where we see the beauty of who God is displayed most vividly? It’s when Jesus comes to rescue us from our brokenness and sin. And that part of the story is called the gospel, which literally means “good news,”—the good news of Jesus and what he did to rescue us. Jesus was fully God and existed as God even before time began. But he left the glories of heaven and entered our broken world. What love! What mercy!
After living a sinless life, Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. And it’s at the cross where we see so many truths about God. We see the love and the grace of God in taking upon himself the penalty we deserved. And we also see the wrath, justice, and holiness of God in punishing sin as it deserves to be punished. Then, God displays his power as he raises Jesus from God and calls him back up into heaven to rule and reign once again over the entire universe. And one day, Jesus will return to this earth to save his children and to destroy his enemies once and for all.
This is the God that we worship and serve. And as a Christian, you should be opening up your Bible regularly and reading about this grand story of God in more detail so that every day you can grasp more and more of who God is. Only then can you enjoy close communion with him.