"Residents of Reality"
Nearness to God never involves the issue of physical proximity. Speaking to the unbelieving Athenian philosophers, the Apostle Paul declared God's immanent presence regarding every human being.
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:24-28).
Spiritual and moral proximity rather characterizes the matter of whether we live in nearness to God.
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Ephesians 4:17-18).
"I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:16-18).
The salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ illuminates us to the truth that we are as fish that swim in the ocean that is God. Before Christ, we are darkened, alienated, ignorant, and blind residents of reality. We reside in God nonetheless, with no possibility of escaping the Environment in which we "live and move and have our being". After we trust in the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit's freely given entrance into our hearts illuminates and redeems us unto living relationship with the One who gives us "life and breath and all things". We discover the Ocean in which we swim, and thereafter experience the blessed possibility of conscious fellowship with the great fact of our existence. "Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).
The most strident atheist lives in physical proximity to the One he rejects. Indeed, those who do not believe in God are governed by their unbelief about Him, as evidenced by the fact that atheists often talk about God no less than do believers. They speak in different terms than Christians, of course, but the Lord remains the determining subject matter of their lives. This results from the Environment in which they exist, even as they choose to disbelieve the great fact of life and being in a God-saturated creation. Conversely, believers know and affirm their Lord's presence and involvement in all things. Our challenge concerns growth in realization of Reality, and maintaining ongoing fellowship with the God so very near to us, but whose proximity requires faith to know and experience. "He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).
The Spirit of God and the Word of God beckon us constantly to be aware of the Ocean in which we swim. Not only for ourselves, but we do well to view all human beings as residents of Reality. Some know and some don't, but no one can escape the great fact of physical proximity to God. We share the Gospel for the holy purpose of calling people unto the spiritual and moral proximity of relationship with God through the Lord Jesus. Thereby blind and condemned fish become enlightened and redeemed residents of the Ocean. And thereby converted fish more and more realize the wonder of life in God, and the Divine saturation of our hearts and our environment.
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee. For Thou hast possessed my reins: Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb."
Weekly Memory Verse
For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.
(II Corinthians 13:4)