Far or Near ?
“Be not far from me, O Lord. O my strength….” Psalm 22:19
In both the Old and New Testaments, the distance between God and mankind is a repeated topic – a topic about which the psalmist prayed, a topic which should concern all of us, and which deeply concerned God to the extent where He did something about it: “But now in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought close by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13). God gave up His Son to bring us into a close relationship with Him.
But does this mean that we are all in a close relationship with God? No, it doesn’t. Since God gave us free will, we are free to believe in Christ and accept what He has done by His death and resurrection or we can reject it, or be passive about it. We have a part to play in this spiritual transaction. Believing and accepting Christ involve serious responsibility – it involves discipleship or following Jesus closely. The psalmist understood very well what could happen to him when he is far from God - hence his constant prayer for a close relationship. When, even as Christians, we are not following closely, we are more vulnerable to Satan’s temptations. Remember the prodigal son who left his father and went into “a far country”? Although he was still his father’s son, he was far away, and got into much trouble. Only when he was totally broken and degraded did he return to the loving arms of his father. We can also think of Jesus’ arrest when Peter followed Him “afar off”. Then when Jesus was brought in to the mock trial, Peter “stood at the door outside”. Even when John managed to get Peter inside, he “stood and warmed himself.”(John 18:25) Not much thought for his arrested Master! It was there that Peter got into trouble – he was tempted and He denied Christ even though he was warned. The psalmist wrote: “it is good for me to draw near to God” It is good because this is what God wants. When we are close to Him, we are protected: God is our Strength, He is also called our “fortress, our refuge, our Rock”, and He is all-powerful. Do we want Him near or do we follow “afar off”? Al Jones