Dear Pastor Charles: Why don’t I feel close to God? I see other people who are always talking about how God has blessed them and how good He is to them. They talk about Him like He lives in the same house with them. I have tried everything. I go to church every week, I give 10% of my income to the church, I pray regular and even go to Bible study once in a while. It doesn’t seem fair that God will get close to others who are not doing as much as I am and neglect me. Can you offer some advice about what I am doing wrong? Discouraged.
I will try. First of all, you must realize that God is not neglecting you. He is not a puppy dog who comes at your beck and call because you feed Him and pet Him. God is your Creator who is all powerful and totally sovereign. You cannot call Him to you like a genie in a bottle and expect Him to perform for you. He does not owe you anything. In fact, it is the other way around. He sent His only begotten Son to pay the death penalty for your sins so that you can have eternal life.
The promise is found in Romans 10:9-10, “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Anyone can say with their mouth, “Jesus is Lord”. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” The more difficult thing is to believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead.
So what exactly does it mean to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead? It means that God did all the work in providing for your eternal salvation. You cannot raise Him from the dead, nor can you raise yourself from the dead. It is God’s power and will that does this for you.
It sounds to me as if you may be putting the proverbial cart before the horse. So many people try to rush off and serve God in their own power and might. They keep their own little book of rules and actually try to keep score of how many good things they have done, minus the bad. Then they hold up this little book to God and say, “See what I have done for you God? I am a good person. I have witnessed for you. I have given a tenth of my money and my time. I go to church every Sunday. I force myself to read the Bible and I even pray regularly. I am your prize servant compared to all those other lazy people. You owe me big time so go ahead and bless me.” Listen now to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Dear friend, stop trying so hard to make God come to you. Why don’t you do like Mary did and sit at Jesus’ feet for a while and let Martha do the cooking. You may be surprised to find out that Jesus is not interested in what you can do for Him. He is interested in you. He wants to develop an intimate relationship with you and it sounds to me like you are too busy to allow Him into your life. The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Try asking yourself a really difficult question. Am I seeking to do God’s will or am I seeking God? Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Jesus is the very doorway to eternal life and the knowledge of His presence and closeness. You seem to be very busy working out in the yard when Jesus is simply telling you to knock on the door and come in to Him. He will send you back out to work when you are ready but right now, He just wants you to get to know Him. Tell Him of your desire to get close to Him. Humble yourself by admitting to Him that you are trying to earn your salvation instead of accepting as sufficient His completed work on the cross for you. I will leave you with this Scripture to ponder from James 4:8-10, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
May God bless you in your search for closeness to God. My prayer for you is that you will come into the full measure of His richness in grace.
God Bless, Pastor Charles…