We all long for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God.
As humans it is built-in to our very being to have relationship with God.
And yet, this desire can sometimes be the very thing that separates us from Him.
You see, this desire and growing in our relationship with God are both very good things. The problem is the process that we create in the middle, how we choose to fill in the gap of going from A to Z.
Creating bad theology
How we fill in this gap comes from a complex equation of what we are told about God and ourselves, and, possibly more importantly, the way we talk about God.
There are lots of examples of our language in the Christian church, despite good intentions, doing damage to people’s walks with God.
Today, however, I want to go after just one, and it’s one of the most damaging ones – the idea of “growing closer to God”.
Man is that a stupid thing to say! But we all say it, even as I write this I must confess that I still say this phrase occasionally. Is so deeply ingrained in the way we talk as Christians.
You are IN Him
Let’s think about it for a second. We as Christians have become one with the Godhead. We are in the Father and the Father is in us. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is in us.
So, how are we planning on growing closer to God?
Let’s look at how Jesus described it in John 15. He said that he was the vine and we were the branches, and that we were to merely abide in him.
Think about that. Imagine for me a tree, it’s a big solid tree with a huge trunk and lots of branches.
Now answer me this… which branch is closer to the trunk?
Stupid question, right? They are all IN the trunk. There is no closer or further away. They are all safely rooted in the trunk.
Now let me ask you another question. Which ones have been there the longest?
That one is obvious too, right? The big, thick branches. Obviously.
What’s my point?
My point is this…
We are as close as we will ever get, and it is by enjoying that union and resting in that union with Him that we will grow and be nurtured into a big, thick, solid branch that will bear much fruit.
We must change our language
This language of feeling far from God and needing to grow closer to Him is extremely damaging! It’s creating a false theology for many people of how their relationship with God should work.
It places their union with God upon their performance rather than on Jesus’ work on the cross.
Let’s start focusing on the fact that we are one with God and from that let’s all grow IN Him. And let’s see this stupid concept of trying to grow closer to God end.
Isn’t this just semantics?
I get accused of this all the time. I know it’s just a language thing, and I know that many mature, wise Christians use it to describe a deep meaningful process of growing IN the Father, just like I’m talking about here. However, my point remains – while some Christians can interpret it correctly, very few can. There are more Christian walks harmed by this language than the ones who benefit from it!
Imagine a baby believer, or even a non-believer hearing a conversation about “growing closer to God” in what way does that paint a picture of the central message of the Gospel… our union with Christ? The answer is simple – in no way at all! It’s damaging and just because some people can interpret our bad choice of words, doesn’t mean we should keep using them.
As I said, I’m guilty as charged for using this language too but lets work together to try reform our language. Let’s be a part of the solution to this problem and help see the body walking in all it can, especially those who are very new branches and are not able to translate our terrible “Christianese” language.
So let me finish by asking you a question. What are some of the phrases we use in Christianity that cause confusion for less mature believers and what do you think we should be saying as an alternative?