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God Is Near

… for me, it is good to be near God.
(Psalm 73:28)

Thanksgiving is past and Christmas music is playing on the radio.  Commercial interests of all sorts are trying to convince us that what we really, really want, what we really, really need, is their product—that for us, it is good to be near the credit card.

But we are replying, “for me, it is good to be near God.”

What does it mean to be near God?  What does it mean for God to be near us? How is God near?  Why, if God in Christ is near, do we say, “Come, Lord Jesus?” Do we say, Come, because God is present or because God is absent?  Usually when we ask someone to come, it’s because that person is not here.  Are we waiting for Jesus, or is he already here?  Or both?  

What do we mean when we say, Come, Lord Jesus?

When we pray, or when we even talk about God, we are approaching Mystery.  

So that when we say God is near, we don’t mean near in the same way that we may mean that another human being is near, or that this particular chair is near and that one is farther away. When we talk about God being near or far, we are talking about our human experience, but we need to recognize that we are in the realm of mystery.  We are using human words to express something that can’t really be expressed.

"But how can I reproach you with your distance, when I find your nearness equally mysterious…?" asks Karl Rahner (“Before God,” Prayers for a Lifetime (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 4).

God is always with us, but the divine nearness to us is indeed very mysterious.  Sometimes God’s presence feels to us like distance, or even like absence.

So we are right to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

We are right to long for eyes to see and a heart to receive the One who is, in truth, already present to us and in us.

So we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus." And we let Jesus pray his prayer in us (“Our Father... hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done...”), as we express the desire for our hearts to be conformed to the heart of Christ, and for ourselves and the world to be transformed.

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