“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…” (Acts 17: 27, 28)
This is quite a statement. It is not what you would expect about the world in general. We are led to believe that God is distant from all but the really good people.
This is speaking of God’s desire to be there to help us. Of His constant care over each soul that He has created. It does not necessarily mean that we have chosen to be close to Him. That is a separate issue which involves our individual decisions.
The above verse is saying that God is expectant for us to trust Him. That He longs for that. That He wants each of us to know His fellowship, love and peace. He does not sit above us waiting for us to mess up so that He can send a lightning bolt up our wazoo.
But that is how the world as a whole characterizes God. That He really doesn’t like us and has generally given up on people. Except for those choice few that live near-perfect lives.
It seems the world either goes to one extreme or the other when it comes to God. Either He is a real, soft-hearted grandfather that just winks at our sin and thinks we are all just loveable rascals. Or, we think He is a harsh and impossible tyrant ready to toss all of humanity into the flaming fires of Hell.
The real character of God is different. I love that passage quoted above. It shows how God wants to be part of our lives. In fact, He wants to be our Life. He designed us for wondrous things. Our existence, our “being”, is eternally linked to whom He is. We cannot “move” apart from Him.
Without Him, we are like a tiny branch that has broken off a tree. It has no life of itself. It was designed to have all of its life drawn from the tree.
So, is this dream of closeness with God tied to some kind of religious bondage? One can come at this verse and think it is a kind of constant prison of endless disciplines, rituals and “good deeds”. As if we have to watch everything we say, think and do. What a nightmare that would be. I know, because I have tried to live that way. God says something good to us and we take that blessing and make a mess out of it.
But what if He is speaking of REST? A life of joyful confidence that Christ wants to live moment by moment through me. Not my having to work to live for Him. But Christ doing all the stuff. In other words, Christ using my will and my thoughts as they come in the normal flow of life. My part is to focus on Him. His action and will. To yield to Him, according to His Word, and then trust Him to do what He promised. A relationship rather than adhering to a religious system.
Watch What Jesus Does
I like what someone said about this. I can’t remember who it was right now. He was paraphrasing the popular preacher back in the 1800s that led people astray with the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” You know, the “WWJD” letters you see Christians wear on their T-shirts.
The correct thing to say should be, “Watch what Jesus does!”. That is what we should be focusing on. Not our ability to imitate Christ. But getting our selves out of the way and allowing Christ to express Himself through us. There is only joy and rest in that.
We allow Him to create the opportunities, the moments of ministry, the times to share a word or two. We don’t have to worry about how to do this or to create a strategy. We don’t have to be clever Christians with catchy phrases to “witness” to people.
In other words, we need to learn to be real with people and with God. Not perfect Christians.
No, this is not “a license to sin”. It is about recognizing that the world knows if Christ is working in us or if we are trying to do His work for Him. The world sees this. They may not know exactly what is wrong, but they can sense the difference between flesh and Spirit.
What the world needs is Christ. Not to see another “perfect Christian”. They need to see Him. And they can only see Him if we allow Him to live through us His way. If we get out of the way.
That is the Christian life. Christ living His life in me. Not my trying, but His doing.