Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"A Closer Relationship" Part 2

    "Draw nigh unto God and He will draw nigh unto you" (James 4:8).
    The command of James would seem to indicate that a close relationship with God rests more on our shoulders than on His.
    This would be true if James 4:8 was the only verse in the Bible.  It is not, and the preponderance of Scriptural revelation declares that our Lord initiates and empowers all true relationship between the Divine and the human.  "When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).  We would have no interest in God whatsoever apart from the Holy Spirit's moving upon us and within us, and the most earnest seeker must acknowledge that his quest begins and continues as reponse to the Seeker.
     James' words nevertheless do raise an aspect of relationship with God that requires our active reception and application of grace.  Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ births a "new man... created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24).  We are a "new creature" in Christ, and possess a liberty to love God that did not exist before we trusted the Savior (II Corinthians 5:17).  "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).  By definition, spiritual liberty involves the privilege and responsibility of making free choices to either respond to God, or to not respond.  As A.W. Tozer wrote, "We will know God about as well as we want to know Him."  We remain dependent upon His working in us "to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).  However, how well we respond rests also upon our inner determination to love, trust and obey God by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  "I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!" (Psalm 18:1).
    In this sense, our Lord draws nearer as we draw nearer.  He wants us to know and experience the joy of real relationship whereby our hearts, minds and bodies are engaged in personhood rather than programming.  It is a blessed thing to know that we are genuinely loving God, even as we are vividly aware that our drawing nigh requires His previous and present working in our hearts.  The Lord Jesus receives all the glory, the heart of the Father is pleased, and the Holy Spirit moves ever more dynamically within us as we freely believe and apply ourselves to the living presence of the Life of our lives...
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."
(Psalm 16:11)

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