Close To You
God wants to relate to humanity, to be intimate with humans, as He once was with Adam. But humanity has again and again rejected His calls to relationship. Finally, God has placed himself at a distance from humanity, simply because of humanity’s rejection of Him. God, just like all of us, can only deal with so much rejection before He realizes that the relationship is just meant to be distant.
But God realized that it was the whole of humanity that wanted to keep God at arms’ length. Even though it was the majority, it was not everyone. Some humans longed to be in intimate relationship with God, to connect with Him, to love Him, to daily commune with Him. Not everyone was asking God to be quiet, allowing other humans to speak for Him. So God made a plan—He would send His Son, His perfect representative, God himself, to live with us and to commune with us. (John 1:14)
Jesus died to end the old, distant means of relating to God and to initiate the new kingdom of God, which one communes with God in spirit and truth, not in a physical place and a physical presence (John 4:20-24). We decide ourselves to enter God’s kingdom, and if we do, then we can boldly approach God’s throne, being purified by Jesus, given a new chance to make up with God as a new nation of people who want to love God intimately as no people ever had before. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Going Through The Middleman
But if we are going to relate to God through Jesus, how is this done? How is our relationship with God through Jesus better than if we just relate to God directly? The key to our intimacy with God through Jesus has to do with the power of the incarnation. Jesus being God, became a human. This means that he is the perfect bridge, the perfect mediator between God and humanity, for he understands both sides of the dark veil that blocks true intimacy.
Submit to the authority of Jesus
Only a human could be king of the world—emperor of God’s people who want to be intimate with Him. God promised the rule of the earth to humanity (Psalm 8) and God is faithful to keep his promise, no matter what humanity has done (II Timothy 2:13). So Jesus became a human so he could be king over God’s people. And we have a ruler who understands our weaknesses and temptations, as well as understanding God’s holiness and power.
If we were to sum the whole of the Christian faith into three words it would be these: Jesus is Lord (I Corinthians 12:13). Jesus is the King of Heaven and Earth, sitting at the right hand of the Father, ruling over the nations of the earth (Hebrews 2:6-8). Jesus has not yet taken up the entire rule, for his enemies are still ruling huge portions of the earth. But Jesus is taking control over the world one person at a time.
So if we are to take advantage of the intimacy that God is offering us through Jesus, we have to submit to Jesus. To have faith in Jesus is not just to believe in Jesus, but to put our faith in Jesus’ lordship. Jesus isn’t our buddy, our friend or our comrade. Nor is Jesus just a philosopher, one of many teachers who has a number of good ideas that we should listen to besides others. Nor is Jesus just a Savior, a healer who wants to help our needs and pat us on the head and let us go.
Rather, Jesus is our Lord, our Sovereign, our Emperor, our King. We need to treat Jesus as our superior in every way, and give him every honor and praise. And most of all, we should put no other human—no matter how great—beside Jesus. Jesus is the great God, the great Lord and even though there are many other great women and men, Jesus is above them all (See Revelation 2-3).
Learn the teaching of Jesus
Through Moses, God gave Israel a number of very specific laws. God was very particular, giving 618 laws about how one ought to live one’s live. Unfortunately, it became impossible to continue to live according to those laws. Not only was the place of sacrifice—the Temple in Jerusalem—destroyed, but many of the laws about cattle and roofs didn’t really apply to those who lived in an urban, Gentile context. Having specific laws became problematic, for cultures change.
When Jesus came, he didn’t see life through a single culture, but he saw a variety of many cultures and ideals all working together. Despite this, He knew that God’s principles still applied to all people. But instead of just updating the laws, Jesus spoke of the general principles of God’s law so that it could be applied to anyone, anywhere.
Instead of talking about returning an enemy’s ox, Jesus said we are to love our enemy.
Instead of talking about just murder, Jesus spoke of hateful acts and speech.
Instead of talking about adultery, Jesus spoke of lustful looks
Instead of talking about not working on the Sabbath, Jesus spoke of doing works of mercy on the Sabbath.
Instead of talking about killing the sinful, Jesus spoke of not judging, but coaxing the sinner to return to God. (Matt. 5:15-17)
Instead of talking about just not slandering one’s neighbor, Jesus spoke of loving one’s neighbor.
Jesus changed the whole face of the law, so that it was something that applied to every human being, no matter where they lived or who they were.
Our manner of relating to the incarnate God, then, is to obey his commands. Jesus said that if we are to love him, then we are to keep his commands. If we ignore Jesus commands, then we are not really loving Him, nor the Father. (John 15)
To obey Jesus’ commands, we must first learn them. The early disciples memorized Jesus’ sayings so that they could know how to live. If we could memorize even a summary of Jesus’ teaching, we would have a step ahead in obedience.
Live the life of Jesus
Jesus is God in the flesh, but not just God. Jesus’ life is the life of God, God as a human being. Jesus was holy as God is holy, but tempted as a human is tempted. Jesus had great power as God is powerful, but he was dependent on the Father as a human is dependant. Jesus is merciful as God is merciful, yet he was also angry as a human is angry.
It is easy to look at Jesus and say that He was the epitome of God, and that He is so far above us that we can never attain His standard of life. If we say this, then we have again distanced ourselves from God. Jesus became human so that he could show us a human life that is divine. A human life that anyone could live, should they be dependent on God.
Some people say that we couldn’t be as ethically pure as Jesus because we are basically sinful. But Jesus was weak even as we are weak, but without sin. Why is that? Because He knew the truth that God wanted Him to live up to, and He had the power to live out that truth. If we are in Jesus, then we too could know the truth of God’s life through Jesus’ teaching. And if we are in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit empowers us to live the life we should live.
Others say that we do not have the power of Jesus because we are not God. But Jesus had no more power than we do. Jesus was fully human, and limited to human strength. Jesus instead relied on the authority of God. Jesus used the authority and the Father used His power. This is the same as us, if we command, in Jesus’ name, then we can use Jesus’ authority. We could walk on water, we could command demons, we could raise the dead, we could heal the sick. Not because we have power, but because we can use that power in Jesus’ name.
Jesus’ life is not just an option for us. It is a source of being intimate with God. To live God’s life is not to be God, but it is to live in God and for God in a way we could not otherwise. Imitation of God is the sincerest form of worship.