We have been asking What is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? (207) In one article (220) we asked, "How personally close is your god/God?". Many who read that question dismissed it with the comforting knee-jerk response, of course my God is personal to me--I pray to Him often. But I want to slow down the knee-jerk a bit if I can. What makes God personally close?
Is God personally close because we can feel His presence? No. And no because men are notorious for misreading their feelings. Who hasn't felt awed at some time or another by the majesty of creation? But awe is not personal closeness. And who hasn't felt exuberant at some time? But exuberance isn't the same thing as divine closeness. Feelings do not tell us the truth, unless we properly interpret them.
God is not personally close because we feel. God is close because we trust Him. Feelings are often impersonally triggered (too much or too little caffeine; hormones clicking or bickering; good or bad news; etc.). Trust can only be personal. This means that God's closeness to us as a personal involvement with us is directly tied to whether we trust what He has said. If we trust Him, He responds to us. If we do not trust Him, He responds by withdrawing from us. If there is distance in our relationship with God, it is tied to the fact that we do not trust what He has said.
And why do we not trust?
Sometimes we do not trust because we do not know what He has said. We cannot believe what He has not said, nor can we believe what He has said if we do not know He has said it. So sometimes we do not trust because of our ignorance. However, this is not a major problem because He has given us His Word (the Bible) so we can find out what He has said if we want to trust Him.
On the other hand, sometimes we do not trust because we do know what He has said, and we find it unbelievable. Sometimes we see that God has made a statement that we simply do not believe. He has said, for instance, that all of the things that happen to us can be made to work for our good. But we look at what has happened to us and feel that no good can possibly come from some of it. So, we know His claim, we just don't believe Him.
And then, thirdly, sometimes we do not trust because we want something other than what He wants for us. Since He is God, He has an agenda for us. Since we want to be gods, we have our own agenda for us. Since the two agendas are often at irreconcilable odds with each other, and He will not budge, if we do not budge we simply refuse to trust Him. We do not trust because we do not want what He wants.
God, therefore, isn't close to us because we feel something. He is close or distant because we either believe Him or we refuse to believe Him.
So let me ask again: How personally close is your god/God?