One of the most common things I hear from believers who haven’t yet been captured by the grace message is that they have a feeling of God as being far off. They see God as being “out there”. Their experience is feeling and seeing God as a distant God. As a lady recently shared with me, “God has a lot of people to pay attention to. I am probably off in a dusty corner of His world.” Why would someone feel that way?
There is a myriad of reasons a person may feel that way. I can think of at least two. First, we have been taught, very erroneously in my view, that even after our conversion there is a separation between God and us. We are separated from God by our limits and His limitlessness. We are separated from God by being “down here” while He is “up there”. We are separated from God by our sin. But the message of the New Testament is that nothing – not our sin, not our doubts, not our fears, not even His Godness – can separate us from the love and presence of God. (Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 10:19-22.)
Second, when we bring an Old Testament mindset into our new covenant lives, we create a distorted view of God’s changing presence or distance. The idea of separation is at the heart of the old covenant relationship between God and His people. The keeping of the Law was a tenuous avenue to connect and close the distance. God was at various times far off or came close in the history of Israel. God showed up to be worshipped. God showed up to warn them. God showed up to get His people out of trouble. And God sometimes showed up to punish them. God’s character never changes, but His interaction with His people under the old covenant was often a shifting shadow.
Bill Vanderbush, in his book Unveiled Horizon, summarizes it well, “The old covenant was filled with the perspective of distance and separation from God and revealed in an endless list of activities that man could do to try to get close to Him. The new covenant is filled with a perspective of reconciled union and reveals the unfathomable lengths God has gone to, to make His righteous redemption the very core of our identity as sons and daughters.”
Yes, the new covenant is the answer to “your separation has ended.” All of the distance between you and God was erased at the cross. God has now joined with you in your spirit. “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him … Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit WHO IS IN YOU, whom you have from God?” (I Corinthians 6:17,19).
Our friend, Max Lucado, once said in an interview, “Two hundred and sixteen times in his epistles, Paul talks about Jesus or God living inside us.” I haven’t done the math myself, but this is a number we should not just fly past. It is a beautiful picture of our united identity. He is in you!!! Your separation has ended!!!