This is a follow up to my previous post: Step by Step. In that post I talked about my struggle to really know God instead of trying to follow steps to become more holy. I started writing that post with the intention of it being this post. Well it went another direction so I will express my original thoughts in this post. Please feel free to share your thoughts as any or all of this could be completely inaccurate!
How do we become closer to God? We read the Bible, pray, and seek input from other Christians, right? Well that is what I have always thought, but now I think this is true and not true at the same time.
Let me start with why it is not true. You cannot grow closer to God by saying or thinking words, or by reading a book, or by asking other people what they think. These things cannot change you. Only God can change you. I know that seems obvious, but unless we go to the Scriptures, pray, and seek council form other believers with the understanding that God will use those things to speak to us we will not be changed. The Bible, without the work of the Holy Spirit, is just words on a page, Prayer, without being given to a God who is there, is just words in the air (or in our heads) and advice from other Christians, without the understanding that God can use them to speak to us, is just good advice. How do we grow closer to God? We spend time with Him, not fulfilling rituals and proper steps but praying, reading, and listening with the intent to hear from God!
Going on a date with my wife doesn’t make us closer. We could drop the kids off with their grandparents, drive to dinner, eat dinner, go see a movie, go for a walk, and go pick the kids up and never speak a word to each other. Would we have gotten closer through that? No. We must communicate with each other and use the date as an opportunity to interact.
Now in regard to how it is true: God uses prayer, the Bible, and other believers to speak to us, and as opportunities for us to speak to Him. These are the ways (maybe not all) that God communicates with us. Can we get closer to God by taking hallucinatory drugs? No. It is good that we want to communicate with God, but we must do so through the methods that he has provided: doing the right things for the right reasons. Right reasons aren’t enough and right things are not enough:
- If I call my wife but don’t speak to her I am not communicating with her (doing the right thing for the wrong reason)
- If I call my Mother’s house I will not be able to speak to my wife no matter how much I desire to(doing the wrong thing for the right reason)
So here I will pose my original question: How do we become closer to God? We read the Bible, pray, and seek input from other Christians with the desire and expectation to hear from God.
Note: After rereading this I feel that it seems like I am saying that unless we seek God he will not change us. Many times He does change us when we least expect it, in many circumstances. We may just be going through the motions and He may powerfully move in us. Truly he reaches out to us before we can ever reach back to Him! This and the previous post were simply meant to express what we do in attempts to draw closer to Him and how those attempts can be most effective, but it should definitely be made clear that God can draw us near to Him however and whenever He wants. I hope this clears the air a little.