How do you envision God? Do you think God is some far off Being that is uninterested and uninvolved in His creation? Believe it or not, there is a religious view that largely adheres to that type of thinking. It is called Deism. One of the most well known tenets of some Deists is that God does not intervene in the physical world. This doctrine derives from an ignorance of God’s Word (Hos. 4:6). The Scriptures plainly teach that God is not only interested in the affairs of men, but also that God is active in men’s lives as well (Dan. 4:17).
Years ago, when Paul visited the city of Athens, he noticed that ignorance of God was widespread amongst the Greeks. Due to this ignorance, idolatry was rampant. “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16). Sadly, the Greeks had an idol for just about everything. They even established “…an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23). It was then that Paul informed the Athenians of the true God of Heaven. “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:24-28). Did you catch that? God is “…not far from every one of us”. That is correct. God is not far away and uninterested in us!
God has been wanting a close relationship with man since the beginning. Just think about why God created man in the first place. God did not have to create man, but He chose to do so. God cares about us. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7). That does not sound like an uninterested Being that is far removed from our lives.
Then there is what James wrote: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). How can man get near to God if God is so far removed from us? In the famous parable, the prodigal son separated himself from his father. It was not the father that left the son. Jesus taught, “And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living” (Luke 15:13). This shows that it is within man’s power to choose whether to be near to God or not. Sadly, because of sin, separation happens to all accountable people at some time in their lives. “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1-2; cf. Rom. 3:23). With that being said, it is not God’s desire that we stay removed from Him. The parable also shows us that the father readily accepted his penitent son home. “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). What a beautiful scene! The father rejoiced because “…my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:24).
Friend, how far are you from God? Do you find yourself separated from Him due to your sins? Let us not forget, it is not God who went from us, but rather we left Him. If we will repent and return to Him, then He will readily receive us. It is then that we should stay close. ~Corey Barnette
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