While writing a post on the sovereignty of God, I was struck by the equal-but-seemingly-opposite truth of His intimacy with us. I continue to find the contrast to be incredible. Why on earth would a God with the power to create and control all of reality care to interact with me? But the Bible insists that is the case.
One of our deepest psychological needs is for connection. We need to feel as if we are known, understood, and accepted; rejection and isolation are very painful to us. If we take the Bible’s teaching to heart, we realize that we can always be connected to God. Nothing we can do or say will turn Him off and make Him stop loving us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39
He Knows Me
God knows every detail about me. Matthew 10:29-31 (also Luke 12:6-7) says that even the hairs on my head are numbered 1. Psalm 139:1-4 says that He perceives my thoughts from afar and knows my words before I speak them.
So much of the time, I don’t even know myself! It is difficult to unravel all of the mixed experiences, half-remembered impressions, and underlying motives that make me do what I do. I can’t always explain why I think or feel a certain way; I just do. God does know and understand every factor that makes me who I am…and He still wants me!
He Is Near Me
Psalm 139:8-10 says
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
This is disconcerting if I’m doing something that I’d rather hide. 🙂 But it is very comforting when I feel alone, abandoned, or neglected. I’m not; God is there with me!
He Sees Me
The story of Hagar in Genesis 16 ends with her naming God “El Roi”, “the God Who Sees Me”. Her encounter with God was in the wilderness as she was running away after being rejected by everyone important to her. God went after her, and promised that her family would prosper.
I’m not just another face in the crowd to God. He singles out and focusses on me, specifically. And on you, as well: He is infinite and can give full attention to each one of us. Amazing!
The TV series “The Chosen” has a couple of scenes that illustrate this beautifully. While the series goes to great effort to never contradict anything the Bible teaches, it does use creative license to fill in the blanks where the Bible does not provide details. Everything the Gospels say about the recruiting of the disciple Nathanael is contained in six verses, John 1:45-51, where Nathanael is impressed that Jesus somehow knew that he had been sitting under a fig tree recently. Not a big deal, right? The Chosen gave Nathanael’s fictional reason for sitting under the tree as his despair over a devastating professional failure; watch the 3-1/2-minute scene here. Then watch his encounter with Jesus here 2. Now, that’s a big deal! But it is also how God really sees each of us.
He Protects Me
The Bible compares God’s protection to a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings (See pictures here and here). The classic Scripture references for this point are Psalm 91:1-4 from the Old Testament, and Jesus in Matthew 23:37 (also Luke 13:34) from the New Testament.
Even when bad things do happen in this fallen world, God is still there to hold me and carry me through. The ultimate protection is not from sickness, accidents, or evil, though. He protects me from the worst effect of sin: separation from Him. Even death, physically, is not a problem when it’s part of eternal life spiritually (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
He Came To Be With Me…
Of course, the ultimate expression of God coming close to us is Jesus, God becoming one of us. In John’s phrasing “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself“.
Anyone who chooses to accept that reconciliation can have an ongoing close relationship with God forever. Speaking to His followers after His resurrection, Jesus told them “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).
…So That I Can Be With Him
John’s description of Jesus’ sweet conversation with his disciples just before His death (chapters 14 through 17) is full of promises that they will be with Him, identified with Him, and “in” Him, so close that it is as if they are all one:
- “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” (14:3)
- “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (14:18)
- “…because I live, you will live also.” (14:19)
- “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (14:23)
- “Abide in Me, and I in you” (15:4)
- “…you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” (16:22)
- “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.” (16:33)
The book of Acts, in chapter 2, describes the beginning of that fulfillment as God’s Spirit takes up residence in all of the believers. 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells me that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you“. That is as close as He can get!
This is what makes Christianity different from every other religion or worldview out there. Only Christians worship a God who is not only bigger, more holy, more powerful, more sovereign than others, but is also more close, more loving and more intimate than anyone else. No one would be foolish enough to invent such a God; we learn of Him because He chooses to reveal Himself to us…in His creation, in His written word in the Bible, and in His living Word in Jesus.
What a great God He is!