James 4:7-10: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
We have already seen the base ingredient for humility is submission to God. The second ingredient was actively resisting the devil. Today, we are introduced to the third ingredient: drawing near to God.
Verse 8 opens with “Come near…” Other translations use the words “Draw near…” This contains the idea of moving toward something. In the case of God, this is an invitation with a promise!
Before the fall of man, before sin entered the world, there was no distance between man and God; there was perfect harmony and perfect relationship. Because of man’s sin and our continued sin, there is a distance and a separation from God.
Drawing near is more than a “try harder” aspect of the Christian walk. We are to come into the full presence of God, to reside, to be comfortable, to be at home.
There is a story of a husband and a wife driving in an old pickup truck with bench seats (I miss bench seats!). They see a couple in another car where the wife is sitting right next to her man. The older wife looks at the husband and asks, “Why don’t we sit closer?” The husband, a man of many words, simply grunted and said, “I didn’t move.”
If you feel that there is any distance between you and God, the problem isn’t God. It is you. What sin is there in your life that is putting up a block between you and God? He is waiting to forgive you and restore the relationship.
Some folks think they have sinned so much, or done something so terribly wrong, that there is never anything they could do to get back in God’s good graces. You know what, they are right! There is nothing THEY can do, but God can, and God did. Because of what Christ did for us by dying on the cross for our sins, we can have fellowship with God once again. Jesus took our sins and the wrath of God upon Himself, so we can be free to be loved by God and pursue the Christian life. God never stops loving you; He is waiting for you to come near to Him.
The promise that we have in this verse that if we come near to God, He will come near to us.
God’s heart yearns for His kids.
If you remember the Prodigal son’s story from Luke 15, it is the father in the story that represents God. He is waiting for his son to return, watching for him, yearning for him, and when the son returns, the father rejoices and throws a party.
When you return to God, when you repent, confess, and accept the free gift of grace, there is a massive party in heaven, just for you!
How is a close relationship possible? Because of Christ.
How do we cultivate, or come near, to God? The same way you do in other relationships: TIME together.
Most people, especially kids, spell love T-I-M-E.
This requires intentionality and a plan. Start with your Bible and a journal. Keep it simple.
Some questions to consider:
-What does your allocation of time tell you and others about your priorities?
-When do you have scheduled time to draw near to God?-Do you feel far from God? If so, why do you think that is?