“Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh unto you” (James 4:8).
I strongly believe in what theologians refer to as God’s “prevenience,” that is, our Lord is always before us, always ahead of us, and always preceding our response to Him. Thus, the declaration of James regarding drawing near to our Lord has always intrigued me. How is it that God seems to put the ball in our court, as it were, regarding intimate spiritual relationship with Him?
If James’ statement were the only light in Scripture about the matter, we would have to conclude that we are in control of how closely we walk with the Lord. This is the not the case, however.
“We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).
“It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
“No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44).
Born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ do in fact respond to God’s moving upon us and within us whenever we relate to Him. He does not force the issue, however, because our Heavenly Father has established within us a real relationship that would mean nothing to Him if we were merely programmed automatons. Nor would it mean anything to us. As in the Old Testament sacrifice of “freewill offerings” practiced by the children of Israel, so are New Testament believers privileged to approach our Lord in a genuineness of communion that blesses both His heart and ours (Leviticus 22:18).
Our Lord dwells with us to the degree He dwells within us in terms of spiritual proximity. In this regard, He can be no closer to us than He is at all times. In terms of communication, fellowship, and a shared Life consciously experienced, however, James reveals that God draws near only to a certain point. In the most amazing condescension of humility and grace, He leaves much of the determination to us. A.W. Tozer once wrote, “We will know God about as well as we want to.” James confirms, and no greater privilege or challenge presents itself to us in the pages of Scripture.
“Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.” I find this truth both blessed and troubling. Perhaps you share my sentiment, and if so, we can do nothing better in this present moment than to “draw nigh,” seeking the God who so graciously and faithfully seeks us.
“Come unto Me.”