Wednesday, September 21, 2005
DRAWING NEARER by Keith Giles
Jesus called everyone to come near to him. Some who came after him did so out of a sincere desire to follow him. They truly left everything to sit at his feet and to put his words into practice. Others who followed Jesus drew nearer only to see a sign or a miracle, having no intention of coming under his teaching or his authority. They were only there to see the show. Still others drew nearer to Jesus so that they could catch him in a mistake and discredit his ministry.
Jesus was searching for people who would draw near to him, not for what he could offer them, not for the experience or the “show”, but because they were willing to give him their heart.
'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Mathew 15:8
Jesus called everyone to draw near to him. He wasn’t picky about it, but he did want those who came after him to come honestly and sincerely. He was searching for those who would come after God with their whole heart and seek Him “in Spirit and in Truth.”
He even went out of his way to seek out those who couldn’t come to him. The lame, the sick, the outcast, the broken, all of these were the ones that Jesus sought after and to whom he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
MORE THAN REST
Not only did Jesus call those who were lonely and outcast to come to him, he asked them to “learn from” him, to trust him as a teacher and as a friend.
This was in contrast to the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees, who were harsh, critical and oppressive to the masses, especially to the poor who couldn’t even be in their presence, nor worship in the temple.
As I look at this passage, I both long to know the rest that Jesus offers, and also to come under his yoke of learning. I want, I need, to become more like Jesus. I desire with all my heart to be transformed into someone who looks, acts, thinks and loves as he does.
That doesn’t happen by accident. No one “falls into” a transformed life. It takes a strong desire; A daily decision to put away my kingdom and to make a great exchange with the King for His Kingdom of hope, and life, and peace.
MY YOKE IS EASY?
If you want to know what a hard life is, just look at someone who is addicted to drugs, or in prison, or living with alcoholism, or any other path than is “other than” what Jesus offers. This is why Jesus can honestly say that his burden is light and his yoke is easy. The decision not to follow Jesus bears its own fruit of despair and ruin.
Still, there are times when it seems that Jesus isn’t so “near” to me. I can seek him in prayer, search the scriptures, worship him in song or in the quiet of my room, and yet he doesn’t “feel” close to me. Why is that?
I believe it has to do with faith. As I undergo these momentary lapses of the awareness of God’s closeness I have to make a decision. I have to decide if I trust my feelings, or if I trust God. I have to decide if I believe the “Truth” or if I believe “Experience”. Because the “Truth” is that God is near enough to reach out and to touch. He has promised us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. That is the truth and no human experience can change it. No amount of darkness can ever extinguish the smallest candle flame of light.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” - James 4:8
We were made by God for a relationship with Him. Our hearts, our minds, our emotions, our intellect, everything about us was designed by God for an intimate interaction with Himself. That’s why creation exists…and because of this, anything less than a complete intimacy with God is not just “sub-Christian”, it’s actually “sub-human”.
Think about that. To be anything less than completely intimate with the Creator is actually sub-human.
Don’t settle for anything less than 100% of all that God is, and desires to have, in your life.
Spend time with God. Read His Word. Pray without ceasing. Worship Him with song, with your thoughts, with your whole life.