Social Distancing and God

“Social distancing” is a phrase we hardly heard of a while ago, but we hear it all the time these days. But the question now is, How distant?

Erik Mclean Xgwcynurzvw Unsplash

Is it two metres or one, or somewhere in between, depending on where we are? It also depends on who we are with, for within households it doesn’t apply. The general message remains, however – avoid close contact with others to minimise transfer of the virus.

Social distancing has meant that we should not get too close to the people around us. But I was wondering if we have tried to get any closer to God during these past weeks? He does want His children near Him, as any earthly father would, and He has done everything necessary to bring us near, to remove the distance between us and Himself.

In our old sinful state we were “far off” from God, but now we have been “made near by the blood of Christ”. The barrier of our sin has been removed by the death of our Saviour and so we can be reconciled to God. By accepting what was done for us on the cross, we are “no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints and members of the household of God”. You can read all this in Ephesians 2 verses 13 – 19. The amazing grace of God has changed our distance into nearness!

There are times, however, that we don’t feel very near to God, and we wonder why, or how to fix it. We feel that God is far away. Well, James, one of the family brothers of the Lord Jesus, wrote this short piece of advice: “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4.8).

I once read a challenging poster which said:

“Does God seem far away? Who moved?”

God and His love are like the sun – it is always shining. But clouds can obscure it, can make things dull, and stop its warmth from reaching us. Clouds of doubt, of disappointment, of difficulty, can indeed come between our souls and God. We don’t like clouds, and we can’t do much about them, but we can keep looking up through them until they pass – they always do!

Going out of the sun into the shadows can also make us dull and cold. Sometimes we go into shadowy places where God cannot be present. But we can do something about this - just move out of the shadows into the sunshine again, and find that God is there, waiting to receive us and bless us. God’s love is constantly reaching out towards us. More good advice comes from Jude, another of the brothers of our Lord Jesus: “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude v.21). Just stay there, enjoying the warmth.

God does not want His children distant from Him. That is one reason why He is going to call us all into His nearer presence in heaven some day, perhaps soon. We will be “forever with the Lord”. Sad to say, those who refuse His offer of salvation through faith in Christ will not be there, but shut out from His presence for ever.

As for getting near, remember the hymn by Sarah Adams (1805-48)?

Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer to Thee;

E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me

Still all my song shall be, Nearer my God to Thee,

Nearer my God to Thee, Nearer to Thee!

Or this one by Lelia Morris (1862 – 1929)?

Nearer, still nearer, close to Thy heart,

Draw me my Saviour, so precious Thou art.

Fold me, O, fold me close to Thy breast,

Shelter me safe in the haven of rest! 

Nearer, still nearer, while life shall last,

Till all its struggles and trials are past;

Then through eternity, ever I’ll be

Nearer, my Saviour, still nearer to Thee!