Christians talk a lot about the nearness of God—we take comfort in the fact that “God is with us;” we talk about feeling God’s presence in our lives. But who exactly is this God who is “near” us? The understanding that God is present among us could be comforting or terrifying, depending on the nature of God and the purpose behind that closeness.
Today’s Slice of Infinity devotional talks about this mysterious “nearness,” and explains why God’s watchful presence is encouraging rather than frightening:
There are many who take comfort in the thought that God is among us, comforting our fears, quieting our cries of distress, standing near those who call, moving in lives and history that we might discover the God who is there. Knowing that Christ is with me in struggle and darkness is one of the only reasons I don’t completely surrender to my fears and stop moving forward….
But what good is it if there is a throne but it is empty, a kingdom without a king, a god who is close but like straw? Who is it who is near us? If god is an impersonal force, or a tyrant, or a distant, semi-interested being, the kingdom is no refuge.
The promise of God’s nearness is one that Christians rightfully utter as encouragement and cling to in joy, in fear, and in sorrow, knowing the face and character of the one who is near. When God promises his presence in Scripture it is more than just a promise of proximity and intimacy. There is a purpose for God’s nearness, the pledge of relationship, the promise of community. It is not an empty or superficial presence, having taken on the things humanity itself to draw intimately near.
How do you discern, on a daily basis, God’s presence in your life? How would your life be different if God did not promise to walk beside us in such an intimate way?