There are lots of stupid things we say as Christians.
I should know, I’ve said most of them and I’m sure I still say lots of thing that are stupid!
One of the more stupid things I frequently come across are statements that revolve around “growing closer to God.”
It’s something I’ve heard my entire life as a Christian and one I’ve uttered probably hundreds if not thousands of times.
“I want to grow closer to God.”
But what does that mean exactly?
What are we communicating with this phrase?
We communicate that our relationship with God is based on distance. Relationship with God revolves around a key question… how near or far is God from us?
Shortly followed by another couple of questions…
What did I do to cause the distance and how do I get Him to come closer?
You see in using phrasing like “growing closer to God” we create distance in people’s relationships with Him.
What does the Bible say about distance?
The message of the NT repeatedly talk of a God who is both with us and in us! It fights hard to unravel a mindset that sees God and His Kingdom as a far off reality.
No. He is in us and with us.
He has promised to never forsake or leave us.
We are the temple of God – He literally lives in us!
When thinking of our relationship with God I’m often reminded of John 15. Here Jesus relates our connection to the Father with a branch’s connection to a vine.
I like that – it makes it nice and easy for me.
You see He grafts the branch into the vine. Our only job is to remain.
That’s it. Remain.
We don’t have to worry about producing fruit… a branch will always bear fruit… so long as it remains in the vine.
But we don’t have to worry about growing either.
A branch will aways grow… so long as it remains in the vine.
Branches in and off themselves don’t grow, nor do they bear fruit.
I’ve never seen a branch lying on the road and thought to myself – “I’ll watch this and see how big it gets” or “I wonder what fruit this branch will produce.
Without being grafted into a vine the branch isn’t going to do anything!
But not only that I think of HOW the branch grows.
Have you ever looked at a tree and thought “Wow! Look how close that branch is to the tree trunk!”
Aside from the fact that this would suggest you need some new hobbies in your life, it would also be a hugely redundant observation.
ALL the branches are attached to the trunk! They are ALL as close to the trunk as one another.
You see branches don’t grow closer to the trunk. They are already grafted straight into the trunk.
But branches do grow.
How? They grow IN the trunk… they themselves grow bigger and become able to bear more fruit.
It’s not rocket science to spot the most mature branches (they are usually the bottom ones!) they are thick, solid branches. You can spot them a mile off from the small new shoots that are peeking out of the trunk.
Neither is closer to the trunk than the other. But one has spent a lot more time in the trunk, maturing, soaking up the nutrients the trunk provides and preparing to bear great fruit.
In the same way we have to see our own growth.
None of us are “closer” to God than anyone else. We all live with Him. He lives with us! IN us in fact!
Our job is not to try and get closer to God. It’s to simply remain.
Are we to grow? Yes!
But lets not forget that growth happens one way and one way only.
By abiding… simply resting in Jesus and allowing Him to prepare us for all the fruit He wants to bring forth on our branch.
Let’s stop trying to get close to God and lets start abiding in the one who abides in us!
I like to give the following challenge those who think they can grow closer to God:
Why don’t you spend the next week trying to get closer to your heart and report back to me on how close you get.
You aren’t going to get any closer to God. Why? Because He’s already taken up residence in you! Right next to your heart!