Why Get Closer to God?

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Why would a person want to get closer to God? I can think of two reasons. In the movie, “The Lord of the Rings”, there is a creature named Gollum. Gollum has become wretched, degenerate, a vile and hideous person who got that way because of his prolonged contact with evil. Frodo, another character in the film, has the task of destroying the evil that is destroying Gollum, but by his own contact with this evil, it is now destroying him. Frodo is good to Gollum, but Frodo’s friend, Sam, sees Gollum’s evil and wants to destroy him. Sam asks Frodo why he takes pity on Gollum and wants to save the miserable creature. Frodo answers, “Because I have to believe he can come back.”

Evil has damaged all of us to some greater or lesser extent and God is the only person who can restore us to goodness.

Frodo has to believe this because he sees the same evil overcoming himself that has hold of Gollum and if there is no hope for Gollum, there is no hope for him. Evil has damaged all of us to some greater or lesser extent and God is the only person who can restore us to goodness. God knows the way out of evil better than anyone does and he has the power to make it happen. Whatever goodness we may have in ourselves is never enough to overcome the evils that have entrapped us. Without God’s help, evil ultimately wins.

Drawing near to God gives us the power to overcome whatever we fear, even the loss of our life or existence, and it gives us power over whatever is threatening the good purposes of God for our lives.

One reason for growing closer to God is to rid our lives of bad things and to have him bless us with good things. Indeed, the Bible tells us to draw near to God with confidence, “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NASB). Drawing near to God gives us the power to overcome whatever we fear, even the loss of our life or existence, and it gives us power over whatever is threatening the good purposes of God for our lives. Frodo could not have gained victory over evil without his relationship with the Christ-figure of the movie, and all the resources that came from that relationship.

Unfortunately, many people want the benefits they receive from God as the primary reason for having God in their lives. It is true that we need God for his blessings, the first blessing needed is his righteousness (Matthew 6:33), but it is also wonderfully and astoundingly true that God desires a close relationship with you and me (John 17:3; Revelation 3:20).

Experiencing God’s life-giving blessings leads us to a second reason for wanting to be close to God, that is, to enjoy being with the One who loves us more than anyone has ever loved us. Love draws a person to desire deeper intimacy. A heart that wants to be with God simply for who he is, rather than for what he can give, is expressed by the Psalmist: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who are far from You will perish…But as for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:25-28, NASB).

The Bible says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8, NASB). In the beginning, God walked with the first man and woman in the garden. They were familiar with his presence. They participated together in conversation. This reminds me of a famous song of the church written by C. Austin Miles, entitled, “In the Garden.” The three verses begin this way, “I come to the garden alone…He speaks and the sound of his voice is so sweet…I’d stay in the garden with him….” The chorus says, “And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own; and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.” Even though we may have become right with God through repentance and faith, only if there is hunger in our heart to be with him, will we have a tendency to draw near to God (Mark 6:30-31).

It is amazing how being in a loving relationship with someone who is good changes us for the better.

It is amazing how being in a loving relationship with someone who is good changes us for the better. There is a story I often read to my younger grandchildren about Clifford, the big red dog. Clifford starts out as a small red puppy. A little girl wants him, but the owner says, “Don’t take him. He is a runt. He will always be small and sick.” But she wanted him and she took him because she liked him and he needed her. One day, the little girl’s dad told her that Clifford was sick and probably would not live through the night. That night she let Clifford sleep on her pillow and she told him she wished he would grow to be a big healthy dog. Then she told Clifford she loved him. The next morning he looked bigger to her and he began to grow. It is easy to miss this point in the story. A new life began when the sick one knew and experienced love from the one who wanted him.

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Jay Ashbaucher
Jay Ashbaucher is a native of Northwest Ohio and is currently a retired pastor and published author. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and has been a pastor and teacher in Montana for over 44 years. Jay taught grief classes in a hospital setting, and worked for twenty years as a fifth-step counselor and lecturer in an alcoholic-drug treatment center getting to know the hearts of people struggling to get well. While pastoring in Montana, he had enjoyed racquetball, hunting, fishing, and traveling the Big Sky State. Now living in Southeast Michigan, Jay enjoys his family, reading, hiking, golf, time with friends, and time with his fun-to-be-with wife. They have two happily married children and seven grandchildren.