Updated: Apr 18
2 Corinthians 5:6-9
By Drew Zuverink
"Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it."
How close does Jesus feel to you today? Does he feel distant? Does he feel extremely close? Does it depend on the day, sometimes he feels close and sometimes he feels far away? As Christian's, we believe there are certain things, like praying or reading the Bible, that we can do in order to draw near to God, but even then, does God ever feel close to you and yet far away, at the exact same time? If so, you are not alone.
In order to understand why God feels close and yet still far away, we have to understand the story of the Bible and where we fit into it.
The Bible tells the story of a God who is on a mission to reconcile the fallen world to himself. When God first created the world, he lived there with Adam and Eve. God went on walks with them, he spoke with them, and they could see him. Tragically, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ushered sin into the world, chaos spread like a powerful virus, damaging God's good creation as it went. This created distance between God and his creation. God no longer lives on earth, he is no longer visible to people, and he rarely audibly speaks to people. But God was not willing to abandon his world or his people, and so he planned a rescue mission. Jesus' death and resurrection was a major part of that plan, paving a way for sinners to be reconciled to a Holy God. All of us Christian's are living in this part of the story, but God's mission isn't complete yet. Eventually, at a time when only God knows, Jesus will return and will cast everything evil, harmful, and sinful out of the world, and he will once again live here with everyone who has been reconciled to him.
The reason that Christian's feel close to God and yet far away at the same time, is because we have been reconciled into a relationship with him, but we are not at home with him yet. This creates a feeling of tension. On the one hand, sometimes we do genuinely feel God's presence, it's right there, as real as anything we ever experience. But on the other hand, we don't see him, we don't hear him speak, we can't hug him - because there's distance, and we feel that too. It's as if we see God like we see someone's shadow, he's so close but we can't fully interact with him yet. The tragic truth is that the severity of "the fall," was so great that there will always be some distance between us and God, until we go to heaven, or until God brings heaven down to earth.
We need to learn to live in this tension for two reasons:
#1 So that we don't create false expectations for people. It is absolutely true that we can experience an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in this life. Thank God for this. Being in relationship with Christ brings so much joy, comfort, healing, help in times of need, and so much more. But because we live in a fallen world, there is still a limit to how near God will feel. It would be dangerous for us to give people the impression that placing their faith in Christ will bring about an unrealistic nearness, that in actuality, won't come until Jesus returns.
#2 So that we hope for heaven. It's important to remember that this life is not going to be our best life. If we enjoy our relationship with God, and yet weep, longing to see him, touch him, talk with him - it is wonderful to know that one day we will get to. We live in an "already but not yet" reality. We do enjoy a real, genuine, loving, relationship with Jesus, but we don't yet get to enjoy that relationship in it's fullness. One day we will, and that is a comforting hope to have. So if you aren't fully content with how near God feels, I am tempted to tell you, "Good!" I would hope that you want to be closer to God! Let that longing create in you a powerful hope for heaven.
So brothers and sisters, let's each enjoy our relationship with Christ to the fullest extent that we can. Let's pursue intimacy with him by studying his word and through a devoted prayer life. And let's also learn to live in the tension, thankful for what we already have, but longing for what is to come.